Having been used on the continent for decades now, underfloor heating has, in the last 10 years or so, reached the shores of Blighty. In fact, it seems like under floor heating is everywhere now!
And so, here at LGS Plumbing, we are now getting ever more enquires and requests for underfloor heating quotes and – more importantly – are completing more underfloor heating installations than ever before!
What Is Underfloor Heating?
I would like to start by clarifying what we mean by underfloor heating, or UFH, as we call it in the business.
There are in fact 2 types of underfloor heating, the first is what is known as electric underfloor heating and the second is called wet underfloor heating.
First up, electric underfloor heating purely consists of electrical matting through which an electric current runs; when this is plugged in, the floor then heats up. This type of UFH is especially useful in small applications, such as wet rooms and bathrooms, or where the property does not have a conventional wet radiator system.
However, this type of electrical underfloor heating is normally installed by an electrician or tiler and, as such, is not really the remit of a plumbing and heating firm like LGS Plumbing. Therefore, when we talk about underfloor heating (and what we are concerned with in this blog), we’re talking about wet underfloor heating.
With this type of UFH, the basic set up consists of a number of pipes that are connected to a pumped manifold and then laid under the floor covering within your property. Hot water is then circulated through the pipes, thus heating up the floor and subsequently the room as a whole. This is then controlled by a programmable thermostat within your room.
What Are The Advantages Of Underfloor Heating?
We often get asked this question by our clients, so here are our 8 top reasons why underfloor heating is good value;
1.I believe the main advantage of UF heating is comfort. The warm pipes underneath your tiles, wood, laminate or carpet heat the floor and whatever covers it, and this then feels lovely to walk on, especially when just in your socks or bare feet; it provides a lovely warming sensation that is far better than standing on cold tiles or bare laminate.
2. FH gets rid of the need for unsightly radiators. Whilst these days attractive designer radiators are available, these can be quite expensive and, what’s more, they often take up a lot of wall space. For those of you looking to create a more modern, minimalist room design – or those of you who are just plain short of space – UF heating provides an excellent alternative to space-greedy, cumbersome and often unattractive radiators.
3. UF heating provides a lovely even heat, as the entire floor space is being heated rather than just one corner of your room. Particularly in large rooms, the desirable result is no more cold spots, so gone are the days of your friends and family being forced to stand around the radiator to get warm because the other side of the room is freezing cold.
4. UFH provides more even heat throughout the day, thanks to the clever way it is programmed. Instead of just coming on for a few hours a day, the system is left on for 24 hours and small heat peaks and troughs are built into the programming, so that there is a “setback” ambient temperature of around 15 degrees at all times. Then, when your room is in use, this can be boosted quickly and easily to achieve your desired temperature (normally between 19 and 21 degrees).
5. UF heating is great value for money, as it can be much more efficient and cost effective than your old heating system. Particularly, if your home is well-insulated, a good UFH system could reduce your household heating bills by a considerable amount! This is because of the way UFH uses and distributes heat; the water circulates around the piping at only around 45- 50 degrees – compared to old fashioned radiators, which often require the water to be heated up to 70 degrees – hence the lower water temperate means less gas or oil is needed to heat the water and thus the entire system is more fuel efficient.
UFH keeps your room warmer more effectively and for longer than old radiators. Because UF heating heats up materials rather than air (like a traditional radiator), that heat is ultimately kept within the room, rather than being instantly lost the minute a door or window is opened. It’s a double bonus!
7. Similarly, because UFH heating heats itself rather than the air around it, it is often far less stuffy that the heat from old-fashioned radiators and always less stuffy than smaller, mobile heaters. Plus, again, you’re much less likely to have part of your room hot and stuffy whilst the other part is freezing cold and blue, thanks to the even temperature distribution.
8. UF heating needs little to no maintenance and so is much cheaper to run in the long term. Radiators tend to corrode and rust on the inside over time, causing your heating system and boiler to become full of sludge. In turn, this periodically needs to be flushed out and sometimes may even cause your radiators to need replacing. In addition, radiator valves can become old and stick, causing the radiator to break down and meaning you have to call us out more often. With UF heating, however, these recurring issues simply do not happen, and so you may not have to see us from one year to the next!
What Are The Disadvantages of Underfloor Heating?
In the interests or fairness, and of painting a reliable and informed picture for you, however, we must also consider and potential disadvantages of UFH over conventional radiators. Yes, although we are massive fans of underfloor heating ourselves, there are one or two downsides that you must consider;
1.First and foremost is the cost of installation. Whilst it will be a good investment and will save you money in the long run, there is no doubt that having a good UF heating system installed will cost you more than having conventional radiators installed. This is because both the equipment itself is more expensive, plus there are many additional labour costs to take into account.
2. Secondly, it is essential that your new UFH heating system must be installed by an experienced and competent professional plumber. Whilst many budding DIYers might be capable of installing a radiator or two by themselves, a UFH system is a different kettle of fish. Unlike the more traditional heating systems, failing to install and set up an underfloor heating system properly could cause you a wealth of expensive problems further down the line, hence it’s essential it is fitted by an expert from the get-go.
3. Similarly, thanks to the complexity of underfloor heating systems, you will have additional technology to deal with. These systems will have additional controls and equipment that traditional heating systems simply don’t have, such as special pumps, actuators, room thermostats and a host of other electrical components or moving parts. As a result, whilst it possible to choose and install good quality components made by reputable suppliers, more complex parts always means an increased risk that something will go wrong, and thus additional or secondary costs may be incurred.
4. And finally, for some “retro fit” installations, it will be necessary to raise the floor level of your property to install the system, which can have a knock-on effect on the height of your room or cause issues with your existing skirting or doors etc. Obviously, we try our best to reduce this as much as possible and there are things we can do to minimise the impact of any changes, but if you’re having underfloor heating fitted in a period house, for e.g., it may be worth considering just how best to go about it with an expert before you dive in.
Get In Touch
So, there we have it, those are the key points in favour and against, which we at LGS believe you should consider before installing your new UF heating system!
Personally, I think UFH is a fantastic way of heating your house and I expect it will become the first choice for many houses in the future. Unfortunately, whilst I would absolutely love to have it fitted in my own home, the house we’re currently in does not lend itself to having UFH fitted. You can guarantee though that the next house we’ll be buying with either have it in already or will be having it fitted very soon! I just need to break it to the Mrs…
If you’d like to find out more about underfloor heating, or if you’d like us to pop round for a free, no obligation consultation on whether or not you could get it fitted into your home, please do just get in touch with LGS plumbing today.