The utilisation of underfloor heating systems as a means of heating for residential and commercial properties is gaining momentum. They install a heating system beneath the floor surface, radiating heat upwards into the room. Here are some common types of underfloor heating systems:
- Electric Underfloor Heating Systems: These underfloor heating systems typically consist of a series of heating cables or mats installed beneath the floor’s surface. They are compatible with a wide range of flooring materials and can be installed with relative ease.
- Water-Based Underfloor Heating Systems: On the other hand, water-based underfloor heating systems incorporate a network of pipes installed underneath the floor surface that are linked to a heat source such as a boiler. Though more intricate to set up compared to electric systems, water-based systems have the potential to be more efficient and cost-effective in the long term.
- Air-Based Underfloor Heating Systems: These systems use a network of ducts installed beneath the floor surface, connected to a heat source. Air-based systems are less common than electric or water-based systems and are generally less efficient.
There are also different methods of installation for underfloor heating systems, including:
- Dry Systems: These systems use a network of heating cables or mats installed on top of the subfloor, with insulation placed underneath. They are typically used with floating floors or engineered hardwood.
- Wet Systems: These systems use a network of pipes installed within the subfloor, which are then covered with a layer of screed or concrete. They are typically used with tiled or stone floors.
- Retrofit Systems: These systems can be installed in existing buildings by laying the heating elements on top of the existing floor surface and then covering them with a layer of screed or concrete.
When choosing an underfloor heating system, the size and shape of the room should be considered in addition to the type of flooring being used, and the heat output required.
How to Install a Wet Underfloor Heating System?
Hiring a qualified and experienced professional to install an underfloor heating system is essential. This will ensure that the system is installed correctly and will operate safely and efficiently. However, if you choose to install the system yourself, you must follow some steps meticulously to ensure proper installation. We are covering the installation of a wet system in this blog. Installing a wet underfloor heating system involves laying a network of pipes within the subfloor, which is then covered with a layer of screed or concrete.
- Subfloor Preparation
- Installation of Insulation
- Pipe Installation
- Pressure Testing
- Covering the Pipes
- Flooring Installation
Planning for a Wet Underfloor Heating System
Planning is a crucial step in installing an underfloor heating system. You must determine your heating requirements to save yourself from low efficiency or high energy bills. You should consider the room size, the insulation, and your required temperature. A heat loss calculator is a valuable tool for determining the heating requirement for an underfloor heating system. You can find online calculators that take into account the room size, insulation level, and desired temperature to calculate the heating requirement in watts. You also need to consider the type of flooring you intend to install, as it can affect the efficiency of the underfloor heating system. Some types of flooring, such as tiles or stone, conduct heat well and are suitable for underfloor heating.
In contrast, others, such as carpets or hardwood, may require additional insulation to ensure efficient operation. Another consideration should be the location of the manifold, which is the central control point for the underfloor heating system. It should be located in an accessible and well-ventilated area, and it should also be near the heat source, such as a boiler or heat pump. The layout of the pipes or heating mats will also influence the efficiency of your underfloor heating system. The layout depends on the shape of the room and the location of obstacles such as furniture, doors, and windows. Plan the layout carefully to ensure even heat distribution throughout the room. Last, consider insulation and screed application for a high-performing underfloor heating system.
Subfloor Preparation for a Wet Underfloor Heating System
Proper subfloor preparation is essential for successfully installing a wet underfloor heating system. The subfloor must be free from debris, dust, and other materials that could interfere with installing the underfloor heating system. The subfloor must also be level to ensure proper heat distribution. Insulation boards have to be installed, which are used to improve the efficiency of the underfloor heating system by reducing heat loss to the ground. The insulation boards should be cut to fit tightly against the walls and between any joists. A vapour barrier has to be laid, which is a layer of material that prevents moisture from penetrating the subfloor and damaging the underfloor heating system. The vapour barrier should be laid over the insulation boards and secured to the walls with adhesive tape.
Last but not least, a scared application should be carried out. A screed layer is a thin layer of concrete used to provide a smooth and level surface for the underfloor heating system. The screed layer should be poured over the vapour barrier and levelled with a screed board.
Installation of Insulation for a Wet Underfloor Heating System
Installing insulation is an essential step in installing a wet underfloor heating system. Insulation helps prevent heat loss to the ground, which can reduce the heating system’s efficiency and increase energy costs. Several types of insulation are available, including rigid foam boards, mineral wool, and spray foam. Selecting the appropriate insulation for an underfloor heating system will depend on various factors such as the subfloor material, the desired level of insulation, and the type of underfloor heating system that is being installed. The insulation should be cut to fit snugly between the joists, leaving a gap of around 10mm between the insulation and the walls to allow for expansion. The insulation should be cut to fit tightly against any pipes or electrical cables in the subfloor. The insulation should be secured in place using adhesive tape or wire mesh. Care should be taken to ensure that the insulation is firmly attached to the subfloor and does not move or shift during the installation of the heating system.
Pipe Installation for a Wet Underfloor Heating System
The installation of pipes is a crucial step in installing a wet underfloor heating system. The layout of the pipes will depend on the size and shape of the room and the heat output required. A professional heating engineer or installer can help determine the most efficient layout for the pipes. The pipes should be laid in a continuous loop, starting at the manifold and ending at the manifold. The distance between the pipes will depend on the heat output required and the type of pipes being used. Plastic clips or wire mesh should secure the pipes to the subfloor. The clips or mesh should be spaced evenly along the pipe’s length and secured firmly to the subfloor to prevent movement. Compression fittings or push-fit connectors should connect the pipes to the manifold. The connections should be tight and leak-free to ensure proper system operation. Once the pipes are installed and connected to the manifold, the system should be pressure tested to ensure that there are no leaks. Any leaks should be repaired before the system is filled with water.
Covering the Pipes After Installation of Underfloor Heating Pipes
After the underfloor heating pipes have been installed and pressure tested, they must be covered with a suitable material before the final flooring is installed. The most common material used for covering underfloor heating pipes is a screed layer. The surface should be clean and free of debris before the screed is applied. Any loose or protruding pipes should be trimmed or secured to prevent them from moving during the screed application. The screed is usually made of a mixture of sand and cement, with the addition of additives to improve the strength, flow, and drying time. The mixture should be mixed thoroughly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The screed should be poured onto the surface and spread evenly over the pipes using a trowel or screed board. The screed should be smoothed out and levelled to create a flat surface. The screed should dry for at least seven days before installing the final flooring. The surface should be protected from foot traffic and other disturbances during this time.
After installing a wet underfloor heating system, the final flooring can be installed once the screed layer has dried. The type of flooring installed over the underfloor heating system will depend on various factors, including the subfloor type, the insulation level, and the desired aesthetic. Popular options include ceramic tiles, engineered wood, laminate, and carpet. Before installing the final flooring, it is essential to ensure the subfloor is level, clean, and dry. Any defects or irregularities in the subfloor should be addressed before the final flooring is installed. A suitable underlayment should be installed over the subfloor before installing the final flooring. The underlayment will help to provide insulation and cushioning and can also help to reduce noise. The final flooring should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is essential to ensure that the flooring is compatible with the underfloor heating system and that the temperature of the underfloor heating system is gradually increased to avoid any damage to the flooring. Once the final flooring has been installed, the underfloor heating system should be monitored to ensure it operates efficiently. Any issues or defects should be addressed promptly to prevent damage to the final flooring. It is essential to ensure that the final flooring is installed correctly to maximise the efficiency of the underfloor heating system. Consult a professional flooring installer to ensure the final flooring is installed correctly.