Radiant floor heating here in Maine has become the most popular way homeowners and business owners choose to heat their new homes and places of business.
I'll bet during our busy season, April to December, (the other three months it's usually too cold to do much concrete here) we are pouring concrete floors with radiant heat every week.
Many of the new homes we pour are installing radiant heated floors in their basement floors, first floors, and garage floors.
The science behind radiant heat floors is very simple: Tubes that circulate hot water or an electrical heating element are embedded in the concrete slab when it is poured, turning the thermal mass of the concrete into a terrific radiator of warm, even heat.
Your feet are always warm
The temperature is consistent
No drafts or noise from blowing air
No dust or allergens blowing around in the air
Pay lower utility costs
Consumes less energy
Installing the tubes for in floor radiant heating is something you can do yourself. You should have a professional figure out the zones and lay out a diagram of the tube installation for you.
A very flat well compacted subgrade is important. The next step is to lay down a poly vapor barrier on top of the subgrade to restrict moisture vapor from coming up through the concrete slab.
I like to see two inches of rigid styrofoam on top of the poly, then the flat sheets of wire mesh on top of the styrofoam to tie the radiant heat tubes to. Plastic zip ties or wire ties can be used to tie the in floor radiant heat tubes to the wire.
Some radiant heating installers just use plastic staples to secure the tubes to the styrofoam and leave out the wire. I find when we are pouring the concrete floor, especially with a pump truck, these staples pop out very easily.
Take a little extra time and do it right the first time, you will have no problems when the concrete floor is being installed.
Here's a couple good books to read if you're thinking of installing radiant heat on your own. One is about installing the pex tubes and the other is more about the boiler.
For more information about concrete floor radiant heating check out the Radiant Heat Reviewer.
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