When it comes to radiant heat flooring, the installation process is essential. There are many components to these heating systems, which means there are many areas where things can go wrong. To make sure you're getting the most from your investment, it's in your best interest to familiarize yourself with these potential hazards. Here are a few things you'll want to be attentive to when you install your radiant heat floors.
Initial Construction Issues
Some of the most serious problems with radiant heat flooring occur before the house is even fully constructed. Many of these problems occur due to a lack of communication between the heating installation contractors and the construction company. Here are a few common problems that can occur during construction:
No Foundation Insulation
If you install radiant flooring into your wet concrete foundation, this will secure the tubing inside the concrete layer. This uses the thermal mass of concrete to hold and radiate the heat into your home. If you don't have sufficient insulation under the concrete slab, that will allow the heat to seep away from the foundation and into the soil underneath the house instead of forcing all of it upward into your home.
No Heat Reflectors
Any time you install radiant floor heat on a second story or above, you'll need to install the tubing over the top of the floor joists. Since this will create an environment with heat both below and above the first floor, you're going to need heat reflectors between the floor joists and the tubing. These reflectors direct the heat into the room above. If the reflectors are installed improperly, you'll have trouble keeping the upper floors comfortable.
Poor Flooring Selection
Radiant floor heat can be installed with several types of flooring, but there are a few flooring options that aren't nearly as efficient as others. Carpeting is one of those poor flooring choices for radiant floor heat. The carpet fibers won't allow heat to transfer to the room as efficiently. When you order flooring, tell the flooring company that you're installing radiant floor heat so that they can help you choose a material that will transfer heat properly.
Radiant Heat Installation Problems
Another potential area of failure with radiant heat is in the system installation itself. Mistakes can happen even when you work with the most experienced installation specialists. Here's a look at some of the things to watch for as part of your radiant floor installation.
When a radiant heat system isn't properly sealed, the plumbing connections can actually cause a significant water leak. Unfortunately, this problem isn't apparent until you pressurize the system. Another common source of leaks is damage to the pipes. If a drywall contractor or flooring technician accidentally punctures a line, it can cause a serious leak. Make sure that everyone working in the home understands that a radiant heat system is being installed.
Frozen Water Lines
Frozen water lines are usually only a problem if you install radiant heat floors in an area that's prone to sub-freezing temperatures through the winter. If the system is installed before the home construction is finished and there is no electricity, it can leave the lines at risk of freezing. Frozen water lines can increase the risk of ruptures, which may cause serious water damage. Ask about adding antifreeze to the water lines during installation if you're worried about freezing.
If you want to be sure that your radiant floor heating is installed correctly and will keep your home comfortable for years to come, be attentive to some of these risks. The more you understand about what can go wrong, the better able you'll be to prevent these problems.