How Radiant Heat Works Heating Repair Portland Maine

How Radiant Heat Works Heating Repair Portland Maine

How Radiant Heat Works

In this section of Heating Repair Portland Maine we are going to go over what radiant heat is, the benefits of using radiant heat, why types of systems you can choose from and what types of installations there are.

Ever woken up and your first thought was…why is my nose so cold? Then you realized that your woodstove was out and you would not be toasty again until you got that fire started?

Here in Maine, we understand that we need heat. But do we really know how it works and all the different types of heat available to us. One type of heat that is not comparable to any other is radiant floor heating. Heated ceramic tiles in the bathroom keep your feet warm after a shower. The hardwood floor that you walk across to get coffee first thing in the morning is also warm. How did we ever live without this?

Radiant floor heating (RFH) is when electric heating coils or water heated tubing is installed under your home’s floors. The RFH system warms everything it touches and actually “radiates” throughout your house from the floor up. The temperature from RFH is more consistent than with a wood stove or standard forced-hot air system.

Benefits of RFH

Although you can’t overlook the benefit of having consistent warmth from floor to ceiling, there are other benefits of having a RFH system in your home. Believe it or not, it’s more economical than a furnace. The U.S. Department of Energy says that RFH can cut heating costs by 25%-50%!

And if living in Maine, that can be a substantial savings!

Of course, new homes are the best candidate for RFH as it takes some remodeling to install. However, older homes can choose to install systems in one room, like a kitchen or bathroom, or where they spend most of their time.

Although most of us think RFH is a new concept, ancient Romans had a heating system where hot water pipes warmed their floors. Actually, most of Europe has been using RFH since the 1970’s. Who knew?

Another benefit of RFH is that it’s a silent heating system with no loud furnace coming on all night. It’s also much benefits people with allergies because forced hot air pushed dust mites into the air. According to Warmly Yours. RFH can eliminate dust mites up to 80%!

How Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Works

When you select a radiant floor heating (RFH) system, youll choose either electric or hydronic. The amount of power it takes to heat an entire house with an electric RFH system isnt cost-effective, so if youre heating your whole house, then hydronic is the way to go. Are you building a new house or renovating an older home? If its new construction, a hydronic system is probably the best choice. You can install hydronic systems in an existing home, but youll have to tear up the flooring, which is expensive and a lot of work.

The options when installing an RFH system are either electric or hydronic. The amount of electricity to power an RFH system throughout an entire home is not very cost effective. Most people choose a hydronic system and you can install the system in a new home or install the system into an older home (but that’s costly because you have to tear up the floor).

Although it a RFH system is more cost effective to run, it will cost more money to install than a traditional heating system like a furnace.

Forced –Air System vs. RFH

A forced-air system for a 2,000 square foot (610 square meter) home will cost about $3,800 to $4,500. A hydronic radiant floor heating unit with a boiler will run $7,000 to $13,000.

However, a RFH system is more efficient though, as much as 40 percent, and lasts longer. Standard furnaces last between 10 and 25 years, while the RFH system will get you up to 40 years use.

Options to Heat the Water

A hydronic system offers another advantage you can use a variety of sources to heat the water:

Most RFH systems in Maine use either an oil or gas boiler. Again, it is not cost-effective to use electricity to heat the water unless you also install a solar water heating system.

Types of Installation

There are two types of installation methods wet or dry. Wet installs layer either a slab of concrete beneath the subfloor or a thin sheet of concrete between the subfloor and the surface. Dry installs place the tubes directly beneath the subfloor during construction, without the concrete on top. The flooring surface hardwoods, tile or carpeting, goes on top of the subfloor and picks up heat directly from the tubes.

The concrete acts as a thermal mass to retain heat so that you have a large, hot block under your floor. Concrete owes its ability to retain heat to its density and low conductivity. Wood has a very high conductivity think of how quickly wooden decks or benches cool off when the sun goes down.

Because of this thermal mass, systems with wet installs take longer to heat up and need to run longer. Those with dry installs are less expensive, but operate at higher temperatures because theres no thermal mass to store the heat. They also require reflective insulation under the tubes to direct the heat upward.

Your boiler or water heater is linked to a manifold a system of separate pipes that channel water from a single source into different zones. This way, you can heat each area of your home separately from a single programmable thermostat. From the manifold, the hot water is sent through a pattern of PEX tubing by a re-circulating water pump. PEX is polyethylene tubing thats leak-free, non-toxic, flexible and capable of handling high temperatures.

What Type of Maintenance to Expect

Maintenance for a hydronic system is minimal the boiler needs an annual check-up, but most modern pumps use water to lubricate the parts and are low-maintenance. However, if your system breaks, youll need to hire a professional, because fixing it can be complicated. Its also expensive. In some cases a unit is beyond repair and must be replaced, which costs about the same as a first-time installation.

The major problem with radiant heat is that it ruins us for all other heating systems. In my opinion, there really is no comparison once you feel the benefits of living with warm floors in a cold Maine winter!

One thing to remember is that you want to know the AFUE price, heating costs, heating efficiency rating and indoor air quality rating.

At Heating Repair Portland Maine my main goal is to educate you, the average consumer in Southern Maine, on what types of heating systems are available to you, basic repair information and how to make an educated decision on your heating system. After all, heat is something we can’t live without, but we don’t really know much about it. Hopefully, after reading a few posts, that will change for you.

How Radiant Heat Works

In this section of Heating Repair Portland Maine we are going to go over what radiant heat is, the benefits of using radiant heat, why types of systems you can choose from and what types of installations there are.

Ever woken up and your first thought was…why is my nose so cold? Then you realized that your woodstove was out and you would not be toasty again until you got that fire started?

Here in Maine, we understand that we need heat. But do we really know how it works and all the different types of heat available to us. One type of heat that is not comparable to any other is radiant floor heating. Heated ceramic tiles in the bathroom keep your feet warm after a shower. The hardwood floor that you walk across to get coffee first thing in the morning is also warm. How did we ever live without this?

Radiant floor heating (RFH) is when electric heating coils or water heated tubing is installed under your home’s floors. The RFH system warms everything it touches and actually “radiates” throughout your house from the floor up. The temperature from RFH is more consistent than with a wood stove or standard forced-hot air system.

Benefits of RFH

Although you can’t overlook the benefit of having consistent warmth from floor to ceiling, there are other benefits of having a RFH system in your home. Believe it or not, it’s more economical than a furnace. The U.S. Department of Energy says that RFH can cut heating costs by 25%-50%!

And if living in Maine, that can be a substantial savings!

Of course, new homes are the best candidate for RFH as it takes some remodeling to install. However, older homes can choose to install systems in one room, like a kitchen or bathroom, or where they spend most of their time.

Although most of us think RFH is a new concept, ancient Romans had a heating system where hot water pipes warmed their floors. Actually, most of Europe has been using RFH since the 1970’s. Who knew?

How Radiant Heat Works Heating Repair Portland Maine

Another benefit of RFH is that it’s a silent heating system with no loud furnace coming on all night. It’s also much benefits people with allergies because forced hot air pushed dust mites into the air. According to Warmly Yours. RFH can eliminate dust mites up to 80%!

How Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Works

When you select a radiant floor heating (RFH) system, youll choose either electric or hydronic. The amount of power it takes to heat an entire house with an electric RFH system isnt cost-effective, so if youre heating your whole house, then hydronic is the way to go. Are you building a new house or renovating an older home? If its new construction, a hydronic system is probably the best choice. You can install hydronic systems in an existing home, but youll have to tear up the flooring, which is expensive and a lot of work.

The options when installing an RFH system are either electric or hydronic. The amount of electricity to power an RFH system throughout an entire home is not very cost effective. Most people choose a hydronic system and you can install the system in a new home or install the system into an older home (but that’s costly because you have to tear up the floor).

Although it a RFH system is more cost effective to run, it will cost more money to install than a traditional heating system like a furnace.

Forced –Air System vs. RFH

A forced-air system for a 2,000 square foot (610 square meter) home will cost about $3,800 to $4,500. A hydronic radiant floor heating unit with a boiler will run $7,000 to $13,000.

However, a RFH system is more efficient though, as much as 40 percent, and lasts longer. Standard furnaces last between 10 and 25 years, while the RFH system will get you up to 40 years use.

Options to Heat the Water

A hydronic system offers another advantage you can use a variety of sources to heat the water:

Most RFH systems in Maine use either an oil or gas boiler. Again, it is not cost-effective to use electricity to heat the water unless you also install a solar water heating system.

Types of Installation

There are two types of installation methods wet or dry. Wet installs layer either a slab of concrete beneath the subfloor or a thin sheet of concrete between the subfloor and the surface. Dry installs place the tubes directly beneath the subfloor during construction, without the concrete on top. The flooring surface hardwoods, tile or carpeting, goes on top of the subfloor and picks up heat directly from the tubes.

The concrete acts as a thermal mass to retain heat so that you have a large, hot block under your floor. Concrete owes its ability to retain heat to its density and low conductivity. Wood has a very high conductivity think of how quickly wooden decks or benches cool off when the sun goes down.

Because of this thermal mass, systems with wet installs take longer to heat up and need to run longer. Those with dry installs are less expensive, but operate at higher temperatures because theres no thermal mass to store the heat. They also require reflective insulation under the tubes to direct the heat upward.

Your boiler or water heater is linked to a manifold a system of separate pipes that channel water from a single source into different zones. This way, you can heat each area of your home separately from a single programmable thermostat. From the manifold, the hot water is sent through a pattern of PEX tubing by a re-circulating water pump. PEX is polyethylene tubing thats leak-free, non-toxic, flexible and capable of handling high temperatures.

What Type of Maintenance to Expect

Maintenance for a hydronic system is minimal the boiler needs an annual check-up, but most modern pumps use water to lubricate the parts and are low-maintenance. However, if your system breaks, youll need to hire a professional, because fixing it can be complicated. Its also expensive. In some cases a unit is beyond repair and must be replaced, which costs about the same as a first-time installation.

The major problem with radiant heat is that it ruins us for all other heating systems. In my opinion, there really is no comparison once you feel the benefits of living with warm floors in a cold Maine winter!

One thing to remember is that you want to know the AFUE price, heating costs, heating efficiency rating and indoor air quality rating.

At Heating Repair Portland Maine my main goal is to educate you, the average consumer in Southern Maine, on what types of heating systems are available to you, basic repair information and how to make an educated decision on your heating system. After all, heat is something we can’t live without, but we don’t really know much about it. Hopefully, after reading a few posts, that will change for you.


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