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The Very Essence of Comfort
Boucher Energy Systems has installed radiant heat in many homes over the past 15 years. From a 75 square foot tiled bath to a 20,000 square foot home, radiant heat is the ultimate in comfort. Boucher Energy has had a long time relationship with Stadler Corporation, now Viega, a manufacturer of radiant system related equipment. Viega today is a leader in the floor heating systems industry and always highly recommends Boucher Energy Systems for any radiant system installation.
What is radiant heat?
In the 1930's, radiant heat began to make a comeback in New England, via the advent of reliable electric circulation pumps that allowed us to economically pump warm water through a building. In these systems, copper or steel piping was embedded into the floors, or many times the ceilings of a home.
Once the war was over, there was a huge need for affordable houses for young GI's. The housing development was born. Perhaps the most well known of these was Levittown, New York. These houses were built on a simple concrete slab. The slab had tubing buried in it, looped to a boiler and presto, radiant heat for the masses.
This concept was used in Massachusetts as well. The "Campanelli" houses where constructed in several towns, including Framingham and Bellingham. These homes were long slab ranches that typically had the boiler located right in the kitchen. Many are still in use today. However, many have failed. We have examined some and found slabs that have cracked and deteriorated. In time, the chemicals and ground moisture attacked the thin-wall copper tubing in the concrete.
Today we have Pex tubing. This is a very specialized plastic pipe that has been in use in Europe since the early 1970's and is impervious to the chemicals that damaged the older copper and steel piped systems. We have seen Pex tubing removed from a concrete slab poured in the early 1980s with the tubing still in perfect condition. The slab was simply being removed for an addition.
A radiant-floor heating system first heats the objects in the room. Then, the objects heat the air to a certain degree. They do that by convection, but the movement of the air is relatively slow because the objects in the room do not get that hot.
Convection systems heat the air first - to a fairly high temperature. The air then uses its warm, "ferris-wheel" like convection currents to heat the people and the objects in the room. In operation, it is the exact opposite of a radiant-floor heating system.
Most people can sense the difference between the two systems right away. This is because the air in a radiantly heated room is usually very still and it's always cooler than a room heated by convection. This lack of air movement affects the overall comfort level. The human body loses about 25% of its heat to convection (drafts), so if the air is still, your body will lose heat and you will usually feel more comfortable.
Benefits at a glance:
What is the rate at which my body loses heat?
Will radiant floor heating damage hardwood floors?
If not installed and controlled properly, radiant heating can harm wood floors. However, a low temperature, constant circulation radiant system, installed by a professionally trained contractor, is designed to work safely and successfully with wood flooring. The floor surface temperature of a radiant heating system should not get above 85°F. A typical sunroom floor with the sun shining on it gets hotter than a properly controlled radiant system ever makes it.
Can I put radiant heating in any room?
Yes. However, your heating professional should do a heat loss calculation for you. In some exceptionally high heat loss rooms, a supplemental heat source could be necessary.
Can I use radiant heating to heat my entire house?
Absolutely. We often hear from people who regret not heating their entire house with a radiant system. It is easier and more economical to install a radiant system all at once than to go back in at a later date to patch in radiant heat where it had not been installed originally.
Is radiant floor heating only for new construction?
Radiant floor heating systems can be installed in remodeling and retrofit projects as well as in new construction. The type of radiant system used will be determined by the circumstances of construction.
What about carpet over a radiant heated floor?
Carpet is a good insulator and can keep the radiant heat from getting into the room if it is too heavy. If wall to wall carpeting is to be used, the R-value of rug and pad combined should be as low as possible. If plush carpet with a higher R-value is desired, then supplemental wall radiant heat in the lower wall is recommended. Area rugs leave floor space available for the radiant heat to do its job.
Is it possible to use radiant heat over an existing concrete slab?
Radiant heat is the best way to turn a cold slab floor into a warm, inviting, and usable space. This can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. The radiant installation method of choice will be determined by the desired finish floor surface and/or any floor height build up constraints. If wood flooring is to be used, a Climate Panel System might be installed. The other option is to install the tubing on top of the existing slab and pour another thin slab right over it. Height build up of the second slab layer would be a minimum of 1-1/2".
What if I want a radiant heat system?
Give us a call at (508) 473-6648, email us, or click here to make an appointment. We will arrange for someone to come to your home and discuss different radiant heat options for your particular needs.
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