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Water underfloor heating installation

Underfloor heating is a high-spec feature becoming increasingly popular, especially in new build homes where more thought is going in to making more sustainable energy choices.

Installation of an underfloor heating system is something that can cause considerable upheaval, especially if the floor needs to be raised – but the cost in time and money is usually considered to be worth it for the more efficient heating, the improved aesthetic, and reduced household energy bills.

There are two types of underfloor heating that you can have installed. Electric underfloor heating is usually cheaper and easier to fit but might cost more to run depending on your electricity tariff. Water underfloor heating is usually more disruptive and expensive to fit but is considered to be more efficient and cheaper to run every day.

According to Which? 53% of people choose to install underfloor heating in their bathrooms, while 50% of people prefer to install it in the kitchen. Underfloor heating is suitable for use in any room where you want to either provide a warm place for your feet, or even to replace your radiators completely without compromising on warmth and comfort.

If you are undecided about which type of underfloor heating will be best for your home, the best thing you can do is talk to an expert, like our team at GMS. We will talk through what would work most effectively in your space, and what this would entail in terms of cost and time. We will look at:

  • Size and shape of the area
  • Does the existing floor need removing completely?
  • Is it a retrofitting or refurbishment project, or a new build under construction?
  • What central heating system is it connecting to? Gas or heat pumps for a wet system (water underfloor heating) or to the mains for an electrical system?

If you are a competent DIY enthusiast, you might even be able to fit your own underfloor heating – retailers sell mats with the wires attached off the shelf which are relatively simple. However, these will still need to be connected to the mains by a qualified electrician.

Water-based systems definitely need to be installed by a professional.

When Should You Install Underfloor Heating?

Whether you are choosing an electric or water-based system, you will need to life the existing flooring – and this means that it is likely to cause quite a bit of upheaval. We would always recommend that you try to tie in this sort of work with other refurbishments to try and minimize disruption to your everyday life. Of course, if you want the system to be installed into a new build property that is currently under construction or to a home that is not currently lived in.

Remember, that depending on the work that needs to be done, the process of retrofitting underfloor heating can include:

  • Removal of existing floor
  • Floor height might need to be raised.
  • Door height might need to be reduced.
  • If the floor height change is drastic enough, you might have to install a half-step or a step in between rooms
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Large scale underfloor heating installation

Can Underfloor Heating Replace Radiators?

For most people, the addition of underfloor heating in rooms like bathrooms and kitchens is to remove the need for radiators – and this can work, even in larger spaces like living rooms.

You might want to remove radiators from the room to make more space or just to achieve a cleaner finish – but you do not want to run the risk of making yourself uncomfortably cold.

To make this work, you should ensure that the underfloor heating system offers at least 200W of power per square metre, and it covers about 80-90% of the total area of floor.

You will also need to ensure that there are insulation boards installed underneath the heating system to prevent heat loss, and that whatever floor covering you are using on top has relatively low thermal resistance so that the heat can pass through easier.

Another consideration is insulation. More modern homes can have cavity wall insulation as well as loft insulation, and your installation team might recommend that you upgrade your insulation before putting the heating system in.

Even with all this, you might want to consider adding extra heat sources in the room – such as a heated towel rail or plinth heaters, just for the added reassurance of heat when you need it.

Remember that underfloor heating takes much longer to come to temperature, and it does not run as hot as a radiator-based system would – especially if it is running off a heat pump rather than a gas boiler, for example.

Alternatives to Underfloor Heating

There are some circumstances and situations where underfloor heating might not be the most appropriate solution, and the team at GMS will be happy to discuss alternatives, or things to do to improve. These might include:

  • Less powerful or smaller heating system
  • Number of external walls to a room
  • The weather outside gets particularly cold.
  • Solid walls (usually found on much older buildings) with no insulation.
  • Single glazed windows.

Speak to us to find out whether underfloor heating is the best option for you and your home.