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Do you wish for warm floors? Radiant floor heat is easier and less expensive to install than you think. There are several installation methods depending on your needs and radiant heat can be used either as a primary or secondary heating source. Both electric and hydronic radiant heat are available so there's sure to be an option that works with your home.
Use our calculator to build a list of materials for your radiant heat project. This tool will take into account the installation method you are using and the measurements of the area in which you are installing radiant heat. Get Started
This tool provides a recommendation for PEX tubing and the number of Joist Trak panels needed for your job. Get Started
Use this tool to see the recommended length of PEX tubing and the number of Quik Trak panels needed for your job. Get Started
BTU requirement is an important factor in choosing the correct size boiler for your system. This number can vary significantly depending on the location, construction and age of your home. Get Started
Find out what size expansion tank based on the size and temperature setting of your water heater.Get Started
Note: Based on 10 degree Delta T
Note: Minimum bend radius equals 6-times the outside diameter
Comfort is the biggest benefit. With radiant heat, heat is distributed evenly through the floors, warming them and then rising up throughout the rest of the room. When the floors are warm, the objects in the room (couches, chairs, and so on) become warm, and you become warm and comfortable. Radiant heat allows you to keep the average temperature a few degrees lower than you're used to but feel just as warm or even warmer. This saves energy and directly saves you money. Radiant heat is also silent with no creaking, rattling, banging, popping, humming or whistling. And there are no visible components with radiant heat so it will always fit in perfectly with your style.
Comfort. Even heating eliminates the pockets of hot and cold typical of traditional radiator or convection heating systems. Instead of being warm right next to the heater and freezing on the other side of the room, radiant heat keeps the same temperature throughout the room by allowing heat to naturally rise.
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The 4 basic methods of installation are In-slab, joist, overpour, and wood panel tracks. When you decide to install radiant heat, you'll need to decide how you'll be doing the installation. This decision is largely based on the space available and the layout of your home.
If the concrete slab has not yet been poured for new construction or a large remodel, an in-slab installation is the best way to go. With this method, you will lay out your loops of tubing, and then pour the slab. When hot water circulates through your PEX, the entire slab will heat up and radiate its heat into the room. The slab becomes a large thermal mass and will stay warm for a long time, meaning that your room will stay warm for a long time with little energy usage. This is also the most cost effective method. When installing in a slab, it is especially important to pressure test. If there is a leak, you want to know before you pour the concrete!
If your floors are down but you have access to the joist spaces beneath them, joist installation is for you. When doing a joist installation, you will need aluminum joist trak panels to secure in the joist spaces and push the tubing into these panels. The aluminum panels will heat up and hold their heat to warm your room. With joist installation, you can also use suspended pipe installation where you do not utilize the aluminum panels. While this is less expensive to install, you will need to run hotter water through your tubing and it will not heat your room or hold the heat as well as with the aluminum panels. If you already have a slab, and do not have access to the joists, there are 2 more options for you.
If you can raise your floors 2-3 inches, you can do an overpour of a lightweight concrete (mud or gypcrete) onto your existing slab. With this installation method, you will lay the PEX tubing onto your existing slab and then pour another 2 to 3 inches of concrete on top. The top layer must be poured so that there is a minimum of 3/4" of an inch above the highest point of your tubing. The new layer of concrete will be warmed in the same way as the in-slab installation, and this layer will retain its heat and pass it to your room.
If you cannot raise your floors by 2 inches, you can utilize wood panel track radiant heating that will only raise the floors about a half inch. For this method, you can purchase wood panels and press PEX tubing into the grooves cut out of the wood. Some panels (such as the Quik Trak panels) have an aluminum heat transfer sheet built in and can easily be combined to fit the size and shape of any room. Both straight tracks and return tracks must be used to create your loops.
Here's a list of the items you'll need for any radiant heat installation:
Once you have decided to use PEX, you have another decision to make: what kind? Barrier, no barrier, aluminum, let's get them straight. Making the decision of whether to use Barrier PEX, Non-Barrier PEX, or PEX-AL-PEX is largely based on what job you are going to use it for and what other components you will be working with. All three types of tubing are PEX (Poly Ethylene X-Linked) but some have extra features built in.
The "barrier" referred to in PEX tubing is actually an oxygen barrier. This extra layer in your tubing will assure that no oxygen gets into your heating system. Oxygen in your system can be a problem that causes your system components to rust. The oxygen barrier and rust prevention allows you to use cast iron components in your system instead of all brass or bronze, which makes components like pumps and flanges substantially less expensive and keeps them running smoothly for longer. Antifreeze can also break down a system with no oxygen barrier. For radiant heat applications using closed systems, barrier tubing is by far the most popular choice. Examples of barrier tubing include Wirsbo hePEX, Thermapex Tubing, and HydroPEX Barrier Tubing. This style of tubing will save you money when buying parts and will prevent rust and corrosion.
Non-barrier tubing is simply PEX tubing without the oxygen barrier. For potable water applications, you will generally use non-barrier PEX. Oxygen barrier PEX is made for heating applications and has thus not been approved for plumbing and drinking water. When using tubing without an oxygen barrier, you must be careful to assure that each and every component in your system is non-ferrous (meaning that it contains no iron). Non-barrier PEX Tubing is rarely seen in radiant heat systems, the few systems that do utilize non-barrier PEX are open systems. Non-barrier PEX for plumbing is available in red, white, and blue. Typically, red is used for hot water and blue is used for cold so that you can immediately see which line goes where when looking at a manifold. White can be used instead of either or both colors as all three colors are made of identical material. Non Barrier PEX Tubing includes Wirsbo AquaPEX, ViegaPEX, and HydroPEX Tubing.
PEX-AL-PEX is a three-layer PEX Tubing that also has an oxygen barrier. PEX-AL-PEX is a layer of PEX, a layer of aluminum, and another layer of PEX. The main benefit of PEX-AL-PEX is that it holds its shape. Where traditional PEX is flexible, there is nothing that keeps it in place unless you tie it down every few feet. With PEX-AL-PEX, once you bend it, it will hold that shape until you bend it again. PEX-AL-PEX also has less expansion than standard PEX with the layer of aluminum assuring that it keeps its shape. PEX-AL-PEX is frequently used in outdoor heating applications, warmboard systems and for high temperature systems like baseboard and fan coils. Mr. PEX-AL-PEX, Wirsbo Multicor, and FostaPEX are all examples of PEX-AL-PEX Tubing.
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At SupplyHouse.com, our goal is to bring you the highest quality plumbing, heating and HVAC supplies at competitive prices. Our product catalog includes PEX Plumbing Supplies, Radiant Heat Supplies, VisionPro Honeywell Thermostats, Taco pumps and mini-split air conditioners. If there are items you are looking for but can't find on our website, please contact our Customer Service Representatives & we will do our best to find what you need.
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