How Hydronic Radiant Flooring Heating Works

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Written By Jim J Neal

Hydronic radiant floor heating is a great option if you need to add an additional room but your furnace cannot handle it.


What is a Hydronic System?

A hydronic system is different from forced-air heating which uses large ducts to blow warm air through. Instead, it uses a water heater, boiler, or your existing water heater as heat sources. The hot water is circulated by a pump that moves it through the PEX tubing to the heater. Uncut lengths of PEX tubing run through the floor. The manifold balances water in individual loops (lengths) and vents it. The water is about 10 degrees colder when it returns to the tank of the heater near the drain.

What You Should Look for in a Hydronic Radiant Heating System

To achieve even heat, choose a system which circulates hot water through approved plastic tubing (like PEX), embedded in a layer and covered with ceramic tile flooring. You can use lightweight concrete, Gypcrete, or dry-tamped mortar as the material. The tile and the cement-like layer create a large mass that heats up the heat for long periods of time and radiates it even when there is no water. The constant warmth can significantly increase comfort in a room, especially when it is cold.

A hydronic system can be as expensive as a furnace for an addition, but it may cost less than a furnace. The hydronic system will have lower operating costs, take up less space than a furnace or ductwork, and provide more comfort.

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