The under floor heating
A comfortable and healthy alternative to the classical heating systems is also the one through under the floor. Let’s understand together what the benefits are and how it works!
You entered in your childhood friend’s house and you enveloped a warm, cozy atmosphere. The boots with wrinkled soles were left on the sandstone tiles from the entrance symmetrical footprint of melted snow instantly. The warm floor, mineral, remembered you about the days of spring in which you are looking with the sole the heat of the ground. The hardwood flooring has the same temperature with your wishes, so you want to lay on it and to restore such lost energy in the cold from the outside. You decided, this year you will also install the under floor heating throughout the house, even in the yard and on the way from the yard. It is hot, it is nice outside, but you still have not forgotten about the snows and the cold of winter. So you have to prepare in advance.
In a room heated by conventional methods, with radiators (heaters), stoves or fireplaces, the cold is felt starting from the legs. In vain we raise the room temperature up to 24°C, if the floor has 10°C. We need better furry slippers not to freeze. The same discomfort we would feel if we had a heated floor to 35°C and the air would not exceed 14°C.
In Romania are recommended temperatures of 20°C for living rooms and offices, 24°C for bathrooms and 17 to 19°C for the jobs in production halls. Man, through his vertical position and his metabolism, feels good about 21ºC for the soles and about 19°C for the head. In this ideal case, the temperature decreases slightly vertically, from the floor and reaches to 16-17°C at the ceiling, to say, at 2.5 meters high.
One of the advantages of this ideal method for house heating is the natural circulation of the air without currents to aggravate our rheumatism and without developing allergies to us due to dust. But this option is difficult to realize, both in terms of technological and economic reasons. The electric radiators and that ones that use the water as a thermic agent heat uniformly the room, which leads, in addition, to the formation of the “unhealthy” air currents. The temperature rises gradually from the bottom to the top, so that the heat is felt to the head, but without having a clear feeling of comfort.
Between ideal and reality
Under floor heating has the great advantage that the temperature is the same both vertically and horizontally, which is closer to the ideal case which was described by us.
Another interesting aspect is the ratio of heat retained by the air in the room and the walls, including the floor. It is good to know that the assembling of these components must reach a certain thermal equilibrium, so as to reach all about 22°C. We will have a sensation of relaxation and our children can play undisturbed on the sandstone tiles or the hardwood flooring.
Take as terms for comparison a heating system considered now classic with steel radiators and a under floor circuit, both equipped with central heating and having as thermic agent the hot water. The first one we know all of us and we do not think that further descriptions are needed.
As for the other one, we must know that it is composed of a network of steel pipes or made of plastic materials (pexal, polypropylene or polybutylene) which is “meandering” through the floor and warms the house.
The two systems mentioned are not mutually exclusive and they are often combined in a way that provides the best results.
For example, we can achieve under floor heating throughout the house and for the bedrooms we can install, additionally, several radiators (preferably on the windows side, because the greatest heat loss occurs through the glass).
The thermal centrals specially realized for under floor heating systems are designed to heat water to 35-50°C. Thus, the sandstone tiles should have up to 30°C, which causes a feeling of warmth. Exceeding the upper limit would bother us, because we would grill our feet and would be discarded materials which cover our floor (parquet, carpet, linoleum).
Moreover, the experience shows that it is not required a higher temperature, no matter how cold it is outside.
Savings of 30% in operating
In the case of the under floor heating, the conventional thermal centrals are not used, which transmit the thermic agent at 70-90°C. You will protest saying that the temperature can be adjusted, but our advice is to consult a specialist first, possibly a designer who has worked in the domain. You will also have in mind that the tubing is uniform distributed over the entire room, so as not to create differences of temperature at the floor level. It appears a first benefit of this technology: the low power consumption.
Using the system has as a consequence in operating savings of about 30% compared with the classical one. Only the fact that the average temperature of the air will be lower with 1-2°C, without feeling any discomfort, is realizing an energy reduction of 3-6% per year. But the installation costs are higher, so initially we spend about 30% more. The investment will be a costly one, but profitable over time. Typically, the warranty period is 10 years, with the specification that the assembly can be used even one hundred years.
By this method we win the space left free by the radiators and we remove the aesthetic discomfort created by their presence. The advantage given by their disappearance appears when the glass surfaces (the windows) are large, reaching the floor, so placing the radiator under the window is impossible. In this way we will reduce the risk of the injury by burns, common present in spaces fitted with these hot items.
You have to choose
The profile local market is in a growth sensitive stage, education of the people in terms of the energy savings has an important role.
Thus, we can choose from a variety of building systems based on similar principles. Also, we mention some of the most important types of materials, following that you will choose the most suitable model.
The pipes through which the water circulates may be made of stainless steel, polypropylene, polyethylene or pexal. They have a long safety lifespan of over 50 years. It is very important for the used materials to be capable of withstanding the pressure at relatively high temperatures and corrosion. If someone proposes a cheaper work with inappropriate pipes, refuse it, otherwise you risk that due to possible cracks to “full advantage” of hot water in the form of unwanted floods.
As the main structural systems we remember the plates with grooves (small channels in which the tubes are placed) and the mounting rail or the wire mesh. In both cases, after fixing it is necessary that the tubes to be coated with a special screed and then to be applied the preferred floor type: sandstone tiles, hardwood floor, carpet, linoleum etc.
They must have special properties in the sense of being equipped to withstand at specific temperatures to this heating system, without damaging or deforming.
They are also provided with protection equipment for thermic central, vibration dampers for pipes, valves vent, manifold and a range of accessories whose installation requires specialized handwork. Under the entire heating system can be applied an expanded or extruded polystyrene insulation to retain heat effective within the chamber.
From the design to the last screw
Following the researches carried out by the providers of these technologies, for each component of the system it is recommended a certain type of product. It has become a rule that all work is done by a single company, from the design to the last screw. We advise you to choose this way. Just so you get the warranty.
The Western Europe welcomed the idea of under floor heating since the 60s, and today it can not be conceived a modern, economical and ecological house without taking into account this variant. For some houses this method was adopted even for defrosting and drying the paths. Why can we not adopt this alternative already checked and accepted?
Features, components and recommendations
The under floor heating installations are made of non-corrosive materials.
For greater safety, ask the installer to install a protection device against lime sediments. It is also necessary a pressure regulating system, connected to the domestic water. The device decreases the pressure when it is too high and increases when the oxygen losses occur through the walls of the tubing.
We recommend the use of thermal centrals specially realized for under floor heating, with natural or forced circulation and a microprocessor for adjusting the fuel (natural gas or LPG). There are on the market centrals with power from 10 kW (for a small apartment) and 60 kW (for a house with a large area) – their outputs are over 90%. As the boiler power is higher, the output is better.
Some installations distribute also the domestic hot water at temperatures of 40-60°C with a integrated boiler. We need a chimney or other similar installation for evacuation of the combustion gases. These have sometimes temperatures which reach up to 140°C, therefore, attention!
To pour the screed the tubes must be pressurized (filled with water) not to be flatted by the cement. The water will be mandatory cold, because the hot one will deteriorate the concrete. For the same reason, the layer of screed applied over the copper or polypropylene tubes will be at least of 4.5 mm thick. The pressure must be maintained about a month after casting. After the screed has done the connection, the heating will be done gradually.
The distributor-collector is very important for the under floor heating system.
It maintains the balance in the entire piping system by regulating the flow of the hot water. Through this set of pipes runs in an hour more than 1,000 liters of water! A round-trip circuit installed at the distributor can not have more than 120 m, because otherwise the central will be overloaded and it will have a low output.
The distributor-collector is made of non-corrosive material (brass or stainless steel), and for the connections between it and the thermic central we recommend the copper pipes, a material with a good resistance to high temperature and pressure.
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