Radiant Heat Systems
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Radiant Heat Systems
Radiant Heat Under Wood Floors?
I'm wondering whether anyone has installed radiant heat
throughout their house underneath the existing wood floors.
I have original 90 year-old oak floors with a subfloor
underneath and wondering if it's possible/worthwhile to have
radiant heat installed.
I currently do not have a heating system so I would be
starting from scratch.
If you have done this in your home, are you happy with how
it is working? What was the approx cost/sq foot for
installation? And what are the approx costs to run the heat?
Any recommendations on installers, or other advice, things
wants warm toes
We have radiant heat under our wood floor and it's great! We
installed a floating engineered wood floor on top of our
wooden subfloor because real wood floor would shrink and
expand too much with the temperature change, it is not
recommended for use with radiant heat. With regular nail
down wood floor there is also the danger of accidentally
puncturing the pex tubing the water runs through.
The bid we got for our 960 sq ft home was over $23,000 and
they tried to up sell us to get a bigger boiler than was
needed. So we decided to do it ourselves with the help of a
friend who is a professional electrician and also knows
about plumbing. We spent about $8000 for supplies and
probably couple more thousands on labor for our friend.
The company we got the parts from is Cal Steam, it's local
and they were very helpful.
The boiler runs on gas, and we have set temperatures on the
thermostat in the house, so the heat is only on when we are
home. Our bill has been very low.
Feel free to email me for more information.
I built a photo studio with 300 square feet of radiant heat
so pregnant ladies and babies could feel comfortable. I
LOVED IT until I got the PG & E bill : 0
Look into efficiency ratings....
Though I have not installed radiant heat underneath our own
existing wood floors, I have designed a number of remodels
which included this approach to heating. It is certainly
possible, and it seems worthwhile because my clients have
been quite happy with the results.
We did one with radiators in some areas and in-floor tubing
in other areas. I believe the cost in that case was in the
range of $15-20 per sq.ft. depending on access and size. I
don't know what it is costing her to run the heat, but I'm
sure it is at least 25% less than forced-air.
This is a very comfortable way to heat, for two main
reasons: the heat is coming up from the floor you walk on,
and it is nearly consistent heat (as opposed to forced-air).
A forced air unit also stirs up the air each time it cycles
into operation, causing asthmatic symptoms in some people.
Radiant heat obviously does not.
Another thing to consider is that radiant heat works very
well with solar collection.
Sorry I missed the original question regarding radiant floor
heating, but it is definitely the way to heat your house if
possible. I've retrofitted my entire 1890's Berkeley Vic
with radiant heating. I believe that my heating gas portion
for the entire house (1500+/-sq.ft.) is around $160 per
month when we have to heat. As for systems look into
Radiantec out of New Hampshire. Their ideas and theories
work. I've been heating my house now for about ten years
with my self installed system. As for cost, I probably have
about $5k, or less, in materials, plus my labor. Most
significantly, DO not use a boiler, as most typically
recommended. I use a gas DHW heater. I could go on for
Good luck, and love my toasty toes! Tim
Thinking of installing radiator heating system
Hello. Our house, built in 1922, has no furnace. We are thinking about installing
a radiator heating system. I would very much appreciate hearing from anyone
who has installed such a system, if you are pleased with it and if you would
recommend the installation company. Thanks a lot.
We installed radiant heating in our house--in the floor on
the first level and with radiators on other levels. Eran
Getraide was our contractor, and we recommend him very
highly. His number is (510) 812-5207. He can come off as a
little brusque sometimes, but he's a terrific guy and very
nice to work with. He and his assistant are very
conscientious and thorough.
2nd floor radiant heating?
We're looking at adding a 2nd floor to our Craftsman
Bungalow. We're considering using hydronic, radiant heating
instead of forced air. We currently have forced air heating
on the first floor, and will probably keep that. We know
radiant's going to be more expensive, but thought that it
might make for a more comfortable environment and better air
We wanted to see if anyone has any advice (for or against)
on whether or not to put radiant heating on a 2nd floor.
One builder told us that since the second floor has a heat
source under it (i.e., the 1st floor), and with all the
well-insulated windows, walls, ceilings that the new
addition will have, radiant heating might not be worth it,
since we won't need to run the heat that much. Anyone out
there with a new 2nd addition (with forced air or with
radiant heating) have any thoughts on that?
Thanks for your help!
This can be very tricky. I have had one negative experience
with a small (less than 500 sf) addition in the Berkeley
Hills. The size of the unit, whether it is in-floor,
under-floor or radiators, and the size of your addition are
very important. Also important is whether you are heating
your water with the same unit.
(Btw, I have had lots of positive experiences with radiant
Make sure you consult with an installer who has lots of
experience. Because our addition was so small, the
consultant thought it was a slam-dunk. Not so!!!
Andus H Brandt, Architect
Looking to have system installed
Looking to have system installed and need a good referal for
We put in radiant (love it!) and interviewed 3 or 4 different
people -- we chose Alan Forbes, of Alan Forbes Plumbing, and we
think he's just great. System works beautifully and he's been very
available and quick to respond whenever we've had questions or
needed anything else from him. His number is: 510-559-3575 isabel
We are embarking on a house remodel, and we currently have a
gas furnace. We are considering switching to radiant floor
heating and/or air-to-air heat exchanger. I'm interested in
hearing about any good or bad experiences with alternate
Two years ago we put in hydronic radiant heat. It was a hard sell for my husband
because it was more expensive than a new forced air system, but now he loves it!
Alan Forbes Plumbing did our system and I would recommend him. The heat itself
is lovely -- our house always feels comfy cosy but there's no smell (or the parching
dry air) like with our old forced air system. We put it in under an existing, quite old,
wood floor and there are a lot of ''popping'' and cracking sounds when it first comes
on as the boards expand/contract, but there doesn't seem to be any damage to the
floor itself. It also seems to be very economical -- our winter heating bills are
much lower than all our neighbors!
Big Radiant Fan
I want to install a radiant heating system in my house, anybody
done that lateley? I have no clue who to turn to, and would
appreceate any info, feetback or comments, and referals!!!
When we installed radiant hydronic in our house a couple years
ago we interviewed three or four different guys and went with
Alan Forbes of Alan Forbes Plumbing (510) 559-3575. He's been
*great*, we love our system and any time we've had any questions
or needed anything he's been very quick to respond -- on the
phone or in person, at our house if necessary. Can't say enough
good stuff about Alan. (As a side note, our PG&E bills went way
down with the radiant, so we feel it was worth the expense. Plus
it just feels wonderful!)
We are building a new house and are trying to decide how to
heat our house. I really love the idea of radiant heating
because it keeps your feet warm, the heat is more evenly
distributed, and forced air blows dust, etc all over the
house. My husband worries about not having a way to circulate
air around the house and that radiant heat is only really good
for tile/linoleum flooring. Can radiant heating be used
effectively on carpeted floors? What about ease of
maintenance/repair of a radiant heat system? I've read that
radiant heat cannot be used for hard wood flooring, but we
really want wood flooring in some parts of the house. Does it
make sense to have part of the house heated with radiant heat
and part of it with forced air, or would that be a wasteful,
expensive option to install two different heating systems?
When we remodeled we put in radiant heat and we LOVE it. (Alan
Forbes plumbing, terrific.) And we have wood floors! We all
think we're getting less colds just from not being so dried out
all winter from the forced air system we used to have, but who
knows. What I do know for sure is that our PG&E bills are low,
which is great. It probably doesn't make much sense to have
radiant *and* forced air, but maybe you could do radiant and
radiators all running off the same boiler? I don't know if that
makes any sense either, probably the best person to talk to would
be a radiant installer. We've had our system for two years now
and it's been just terrific, and any time we've had any trouble
or questions, Alan helped us out right away. I'd say give him a
call and see what he thinks. I think this is still his # (we
haven't had to call him for anything in while) Alan Forbes
Love That Radiant Heat!
Bravo for you in considering radiant floor heating. Definitely go
with RH if you can. About 8 years ago I installed a RH system in
my 100yo home in Berkeley. Prior to that I had electric base
board heaters in some of the rooms, a very comfortable heat, but
expensive to use. Since you did not mention where your are
building your new home you might have some different issues.
First, RH is an incredibly comfortable heat, especially if you
are a 'shoeless household''. It is great to get up in the morning
and walk across the nice warm floor in your stockng feet. One
issue is the mannor in which the house heats. With RH there is a
significant delay if you want the house warmer . As for
maintenance of the system that will really depend on how the
system is designed and the components used. I use a domestic HW
heater rather than a boiler. (inexpensive) I believe that most
system mfgs. will tell you it is permissible to go with hardwood
floors, and we have them here and so far I have not seen a
problem. You might want to consider a back up/or booster system
but that really depends. Also, you could go solar and virtually
heat your house for free! The design of the house might change
depending on which type of heating system you go with, so
hopefully you are not too far in the design process. Do you need
AC? That will need to be forced air. Lastly, get a copy of ''Fine
Home building'' and contact the advertisers about their systems. I
Good luck, Contact me if you'd like
As part of a long overdue kitchen remodel, we would like to
replace our old gravity furnace system with a staple-up hydronic
radiant system. Our home is two stories and apporx. 2500 sqft. I
am wondering if you have:
1) Any counsel on a forced-air versus hydronic radiant system;
2) Any experience with a hydronic retrofit installation;
3) Recommendations re: contractors/installers?
Grateful for any advice.
Hydronic heating is definitely the way to go, but you need to
understand how it works and the pluses and minuses. I installed
it in my house and even avter gas rates have tripled, I still
heat my 100 yro Vicfor around 130/mo in the winter. There are
lots of systems out there but I installed a Radiantec styled
system and think their ideas on boilers makes alot of sense. I
could rant on for ever, if you want more info contact me.
replaced our home's heating system with hydronic radiant heat and
we all LOVE it. It's on a timer so when you wake up in the
morning, the floors aren't jarringly cold -- even the tiles in
the bathroom are pleasant to bare feet. Our kids play on the
floor a lot and it's a very comfy place to be. It's a subtle,
slow heat -- you can't just crank it on and get warm fast, but
it's lovely and comfortable, never drying or smelly like our old
forced air. And it's much cheaper now! Our PG&E bills seem to
be about a third of our neighbors. We used Alan Forbes Plumbing,
and he's been terrific -- he has personally come out whenever
we've needed him, and is just a swell guy to deal with.
Are there recommendations/referrals for a Radiator - Boiler -
Radiant heat installer or contractor?
We want to replace our forced air gas furnace and ducting with
a modern radiator and boiler system (one that has basebard
radiators rather than under-the-floor heating). We have a
small house, less than 1500 sq feet, but want to regain the
space taken up by our current system. We're eager for
recommendations on East Bay contractors or any advice from
others who have installed similar systems
Your desire to install a radiant heating system is a great
choice. I installed a system in our 100 yr. old Vic. here in
Berkeley. Previously to that we had electric baseboard heating.
Nice heat, but very expensive to operate. I'm wondering why you
do not want to go under floor. The installation with 'radiators'
will be somewhat simpler, but it will probably cost you more to
operate this kind of system. If you have no access to the floor
joist spaces, then it is really your only choice. One issue with
radiators, is it takes much hotter input to acquire the amount of
BTU's need to heat your space.
For my house I am using my
domestic hotwater heater for both domestic and heating needs. If
I had gone the way of radiators, I'm not sure that I would have
been able to do that as the heat output of a water heater is
probably inadequate. You mentioned a boiler, there are issues
with using boilers, which I will not go into here.
Also, sort of
as a final note, when I designed my system PGE was pushing the
use of natural gas, now that we have all gone that route it's
''OOPs, gee we do not have the capacity therefore we need to raise
the rates!''. It is still less expensive to heat the house, but
with the developement of solar power, you could install a system
and then heat your house by (free/cheap??)electricity.Now with
radiant, my bill have usually been 70-90$/mo. vs. 120-150$/mo
with electric base boards. In Jan with the cold our bill was
$112. As for contractors that do radiant here in the bay area, I
do not know, but for materials and system help, pick up a copy of
''Fine home Building'' and look for the adds. Fell free to contact
me if you have any questions.
Alan Forbes - see review below.
We Love our Radiant Heat
I do not have experience with switching systems, but do have a
hydronic heater that I love. We have old cast iron (?)
radiators throughout the house that put out a gentle, delicious
I would recommend Pacific Piping, in the yellow pages under
boiler repair, for any service you need. They may do new
installs too. And unfortunately have to recommend against ever
using Alaska Heating, as they really don't know what they are
Does anyone have recommendations or information about installing electric under-floor radiant heating in just one room? I have dreams of a warm bathroom floor. The floor is small - I'd probably be heating about 12-15 square feet. It's currently got ceramic tile one it (12"). So - any idea what it would cost to do the work (including re-tiling the floor)? Any recommendations on contractors? Experiences to relate?
I'm interested to hear if anyone has experience with NuHeat, an electric radiant heat system, or the like. The recommendations on the list are several years old, and all deal with water systems.
Concerning radiant floor heating,
Three years ago we remodeled our own bathroom, and put in radiant floor heating. It was a fun, easy and straightforward project. We bought the system from Art Tile on Broadway in Oakland. At the time there were two owners, both very helpful and supportive (Royal was one of the guys, I forget the other's name) We did out own measuring of the floor, they helped us figure out how much floor heat we would need for the space. Its basically a wire system webbed through a cotton netting that you shape to go around your toilet and tub etc. by making cuts in the cotton webbing. Its tacked into place and then you tile over it.
My husband wired the system himself, we have it on a timer, and all the components are in a cupboard so we don't have to look at any of the hardware. When we get up in the morning, the floor is toasty warm, every day can be set for a different time if you like.
We love our bathroom, had fun doing it, and I'd recommend it. My biggest suggestion is plan and read and plan and read some more. Good luck.
We love our radiant heating, I can't describe how great it
is to always be the right temperature.
It was installed in a new slab on gade by Mark Fineau
at MDF plumbing. He was effiecint and reasonably
priced. The sytem is beautiful, literally a work of art.
You can reach him at 510-508-6589
I'm interested in adding radiant-floor-heating to one room
in my home (100 sq. ft). Does anyone have a recommendation
for an installer/contractor?
To Cynthia, who wanted referral for hydronics installer:
Though he doesn't do installations, Alan Forbes of Forbes
plumbing (ph. 510-452-2844) can give you information and a
solid referral. He has done fabulous, thorough and reliable
repairs on our radiant heating system. I would NOT go with
J.W. Lunt, who is one of the bigger names in this area--my
experience with him was that he was expensive, arrogant,
didn't return calls, and said some things ''wouldn't work'',
when Alan Forbes simply fixed it. Good luck. BTW, we love our
radiant heating system.
My husband Paul does hydronics. Company name is Pipeline
Plumbing and the phone number is 510-658-1588. Leave a
message and he will get back to you promptly. I promise.
Has anyone done a radiant heat retrofit (the kind with polyethylene tubes
that go underneath the floorboards) in their older home ? How has it
worked for you? Would you do it again? Any advice re. boilers,
components, installers, things you wish you had know before you
started? In case it is helpful to know this, we have a 1908 bungalow with
wood floors except in bathrooms and kitchen (vinyl and linoleum there),
plus a second story addition which will need either baseboards or European
flat panel radiators tied into the system. Thanks in advance for any words
of wisdom! Katie
We just had our 1907 house retrofitted with radiant heat. We did not get
the floor board units that you describe, but we did get 4 other types of
units (including the flat panel units you describe and refurbished
antique cast iron radiators) that met the needs of different parts of the
house. Amazingly, the boiler for our entire house (appx 3500+ sq ft) is an
incredibly efficient wall-hung unit that measures only 18" square by 36"
tall -- very unobtrusive as it fits on the wall in our laundry room! The
heat that the system provides is awesome -- very warm, absolutely no
noise (or dust generation like a forced air system). Also, these are water
radiator systems -- completely silent as opposed to those old clanky steam
radiators you may have encountered in old buildings.
We were challenged to pick from a very small handful of contractors
(about 4 or 5 in Berkeley) that install radiant heat. But we were very
pleased with our choice of Greg Ticehurst of Ticehurst Plumbing
(843-0508). Getting radiant heat is more expensive than forced air (more
labor I suppose? or less demand?), but I think it is a superb heating
There's a radiant heat contractor's resource in Berkeley that has a
number of models on display (including the polyethylene tubes you
mentioned). While generally, they're a contractor's resource, you can
probably just peruse their showroom and ask a few questions to educate
Hydronic Specialties Company
http://h-s-c.com (I know that's the correct link, but it seemed to be down
just now when I checked it). Brian
The url for Hydronic Specialties Company is http://www.2hsc.com/.
They are located at 1051 Folger Street, Berkeley, CA 94710. David
this page was last updated: Feb 2, 2013
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