Radiant heat consists of warm water, ranging from 80 degrees to 140 degrees, which circulates through flexible PEX tubing that is embedded in the floor. The floor essentially becomes a large radiator. The floor becomes warm and radiates heat to the walls and objects in the room. When these objects become warm, you experience less heat loss because you’re near warm objects, so you feel warmer.
There are three basic types of radiant heat:
1. Installing tubing directly within a concrete slab: A thin layer of foam insulation is placed against the ground. Then the tubing is installed on top of the foam and encapsulated into the concrete. This method is used for basements, garages and commercial buildings. It can also be used throughout the house, however this is uncommon in New England.
2. The “staple up” method: The tubing attaches to the underside of the subfloor, and is stapled to an aluminum track. Heat then radiates up through the floor, allowing radiant heat to be added to an existing floor.
3. The “On-Top” method: A thin, aluminum and plywood panel is placed on top of the existing subfloor. It is covered with the floor of your choice. This method can work well in both new construction and remodeling.
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