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16 Things You Must Know About Radiant Floor Heating

16 Things You Must Know About Radiant Floor Heating...

There is no doubt that radiant floor heat is a healthier and more cost efficient way to heat your home.

An energy-efficient in floor heating system should lower your energy bills and save you money. And since radiant heat floor maintains a surface temperature of 85-90 degrees, most people set their thermostat lower (68 degrees) instead of the average 72 degrees with forced air. Plus, with more moderate heat, air doesn’t become as dry or as statically charged.

Not to mention, you also get the added advantage of a quiet heating system that doesn’t ping or hiss, and you never have to look at those eyesores like heating registers, vents or baseboard heaters.

Yes, a radiant heat flooring system is certainly one of the most natural ways to create a cozy environment with a stable and efficient heat source.

1. What is radiant floor heating?

Radiant floor heating is a comfortable and efficient form of heating where warm water circulates through flexible, specially designed tubing (PEX) installed under the floor. The heat radiates evenly up through the floor, warming people and objects in the room and providing more comfort for less money.

2. What are the major components of a radiant floor heating system?

Radiant floor heating systems will vary depending upon the needs of the client. However, there are similarities in most systems. All radiant floor heating systems have a heat source to heat the water. Most systems use either a natural gas or a propane boiler. The water is then circulated to the floors in the building through piping or tubing.

The flow of the water is managed through a variety of mechanisms such as circulating pumps and zone valves which are directed by the thermostat to send the hot water to the zones that are cold.

3. Can other types of hot water driven equipment be used with a radiant floor?

Yes. Hydronic heating encompasses much more than radiant floors. can also design, provide and install hot water baseboards, hot water radiators, hot water towel racks, and fan convectors. These devices may be used for a number of reasons, including aesthetics, increased comfort, or lower cost.

4. How does the building construction affect the design and performance of the heating system?

Naturally, the construction of a building significantly affects the performance of the heating system. For example, a poorly insulated home will require a heating system to provide a much greater output of heat to maintain comfortable living temperatures. Similarly, a home that has a large number of windows with southern exposure may require less heat in rooms that receive a great deal of passive solar heat.

It is important for the sales representative to know all of your building plans to design a custom heating system according to your needs and desires.

5. Can hydronic heating be used for ice removal and snow melting?

Yes. However, you must understand what is involved in melting snow and ice. First of all, it requires a lot of energy to do the job (around 110 -150 BTu’s/sq. ft. vs. 25-30 to heat a typical house).

Second, it takes quite some time to bring the surface temperature high enough to melt snow and ice, from a cold slab. If you have the time to wait, fine, but in critical areas, the slab must be held in an idle condition, closer to 30 deg. F., until melting is needed. This is usually done with a snow and ice sensor to turn the system on. Again, there is an energy cost to hold this idle condition.

6. Can I put a radiant floor on the top floor in my house?

Yes. You can put a radiant floor on the upper floors of any building using a couple of different methods. You can pour a lightweight concrete over the tubing on the upper floors. This adds to the weight of the upper floors and may need to be compensated for in construction. You can also put radiant floor pipe between joists on the top floor.

7. What makes radiant floor heating so comfortable?

Unlike traditional heating systems that just warm the air, radiant heat warms the floor and the objects in contact with the floor. The entire floor distributes a consistent, even, and quiet heating. There are no drafts, and radiant floor heating takes the chill out of cold tile, marble, and wood floors.

8. Can the floor get too hot?

No. A properly designed Radiant Floor Heating system will deliver comfortable warmth that’s a pleasure to walk on – especially in bare feet! If additional heat is needed to satisfy the heat load, extra warmth can easily be added by installing radiant walls and ceilings.

9. If I have radiant floor heating, can I still have air conditioning?

Sure you can. In fact, separate heating and cooling systems make the most sense. Radiant floor heating keeps the heat near the floor where it does the most good; and air conditioning ductwork is usually placed high up the wall where it is needed to cool your home. The result is optimal comfort and efficiency all year ’round.

10. Is radiant floor heating more expensive than the alternatives?

Yes. It will cost more to install; however it’s important to remember that radiant floor heating can save 20 to 40 percent on your heating bills and significantly increase the resale value of your home. That, plus the increased comfort, makes it worth the extra dollars for initial installation.

11. We’ve got allergies. Can a Radiant Floor System help?

For many, this is a resounding “Yes!” Our radiant heat system has no drafts, fans or blowers to circulate dust, dirt, and other allergens throughout your home. Warm Radiant Floors can eliminate the need for carpeting that is a breeding ground for dust mites, a very common cause of allergic respiratory disease. The result is a clean, healthy environment—a must for people with allergies.

12. What rooms will benefit the most from a radiant heating system?

The main living areas: dining rooms, family rooms, living rooms, kitchens, and baths. These are the rooms that we spend the most time in, either sitting or standing in one spot, for extended periods of time.

13. How much fuel will a radiant heated building use compared to other types of heating systems?

Depending on the type of heat you are comparing it to, it can cost approximately 30% less to heat a building with a radiant floor heating system. And of course, the other benefit being that you will be much more comfortable while spending less on your heating bill.

14. What happens if radiant floor freezes?

One potential drawback to using water in a heating system is the potential for damage due to freezing. This could occur if the heating system failed or was switched off during extremely inclement weather. The heating system would need to be off for several days for most houses to freeze.

Portions of a hydronic heating system may freeze should it be poorly designed or installed in a manner that it is not sufficiently protected from the elements. However, it is common practice to add antifreeze and corrosion inhibitors to the heating system to prevent any problems of this sort. provides heat transfer fluid. It is a non-toxic propylene glycol antifreeze, formulated with corrosion inhibitors specifically for heating systems. When mixed with water in concentrations of 50% by volume, propylene glycol will provide freeze protection down to -35° Celsius.

15. What kinds of floor treatments can I use over a radiant floor?

You can use any floor treatment you want. Radiant floor heat is compatible with tile, linoleum, carpeting, hardwood floors, etc. The only concern is that you are careful when nailing anything into the floor, so you do not puncture the tubes that circulate the water.

16. How long will a radiant floor last?

A radiant floor will easily last the life of the building or longer when properly designed and installed.


  1. I liked how you mentioned that a poorly insulated home will negatively affect the floor heating system so that it will need to work harder to heat the floors. You also mention that rooms that get a lot of southern light might need less floor heating. I also think that this type of floor heating technology would work great for driveways that get iced over during winter.

  2. My house gets very cold in the winter and one of the worst parts is dealing with the cold floors. I like that not only does radiant floor heating make your house more comfortable in the winter time, but it also lowers your energy bills. I understand that it costs quite a bit to get the system in your house, but the benefits outweigh the costs in my mind.

  3. I thought this article was really informative as far as radiant heating goes. My wife and I have been looking at getting a radiant heating system put in our home ever since we learned that it can be helpful in keeping allergens from being dispersed throughout your home. We were concerned thought that a system like this might make the floor too hot, so it’s good to know that a properly designed system won’t overheat.

  4. Nice article now i know about floor heating system benefits and the purpose of radiant.

  5. Thinking of purchasing a house built in 1988 with Radiant floors everywhere, would this be too risky considering the lifetime of these systems are apprximately 35 years?

    If so, what are my options when the system fails us and how much would it cost me approximately for a 1800 sq ft house.

    Would we need to replace all the electrical elements under all the floors?

    A nervous potentiel buyer…….and your precious cooperation would greatly be appreciated……..

    • I doubt that they did electric radiant heat in 1988. The home may have water pipes in, or under the floor structure.
      Before buying the house, hire a qualified home inspector.

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