Radiant floor heating can give your home a sense of consistent, even heat that makes it comfortable and inviting. The installation process is straightforward, but there are many areas where problems can arise. If you want to make sure you're getting the most from your investment, it's important you are attentive to the process from start to finish and know the warning signs of potential problems. Here are some of the things you need to watch out for while your floors are being installed.
Problems with Initial Construction
Some of the biggest issues that can arise with radiant floor heating are caused by errors made because of poor communication between the construction crew and your heating contractors. Each layer of the process must be done correctly for your heating system to work properly. Here's a look at a couple of things that can be problematic.
Lack of Foundation Insulation
Radiant flooring can be installed directly into wet concrete, securing the radiant tubing into the concrete layer. When you do this, the thermal mass of the concrete serves to radiate heat into your house. If there's no insulation under the concrete slab, the heat can seep into the soil beneath instead of rising up into your house.
Missing Heat Reflectors
If you're installing radiant floor heat in a second story, you'll need to install the heating above the floor joists. Since this creates a situation where your first floor rooms will have heat in both the floor and the ceiling, you'll need to have heat reflectors installed to direct the heat into the room above. If those reflectors aren't installed correctly, you may have a hard time keeping the upper story rooms warm.
Poor Flooring Choice
Radiant floor heating works with many different types of flooring, but there are some that do not work as efficiently as others. For example, carpeting can hinder the radiation of heat, which may leave your rooms cooler than you prefer. When you order your flooring, make sure that the flooring company knows that it will be installed as part of a radiant heat design.
Problems with Radiant Heat Installation
Once the basic construction is finished, it's time to install the radiant heat system. Mistakes can happen even with the best contractors, but there are a few problems that can occur with your heating system due to poor installation service.
Leaking water is one of the biggest concerns for a radiant heat system. If the plumbing connections aren't sealed properly, it won't be evident until the system is pressurized. Even if the testing shows that the connections are sealed, one mistake by a drywall contractor or flooring installation technician can cause a puncture that may lead to a leak. Make sure that everyone working in the room knows that there's a radiant heat system beneath the floors.
Frozen lines are typically only a concern in areas where the temperatures drop significantly during the winter months. If the heating system is installed before the construction is finished and there's no power to the property, any water left in the lines may freeze. This can cause ruptures that may ultimately cause leaks. Talk with the installation contractors about adding antifreeze to the system if you have any reason to be worried about freezing.
The best way to avoid problems with your radiant floor heat installation is to work heating contractors. Talk to your construction crew and any other contractors who may be working on the home so that everyone knows what to expect. The more everyone can work together, the less risk you'll have of accidents and oversights before the construction is finished. Your HVAC contractor can help you ensure a consistent, reliable radiant floor heating system as part of your new home.