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Underfloor heating pipes

Pros and Cons of Under Floor Heating

Is under floor heating a must have for every property renovation project? Read our quick guide to the main advantages and disadvantages.

With any renovation or self-build, you will need to consider the type of heating that will be installed. One option is under floor heating, which can be either electric or water-based.

There is a wide variety of electric element under-floor heating systems on the market, which are suitable for most types of flooring. The ready-to-roll electric under-floor mats can be laid by any confident DIYer. It is therefore much cheaper to install than the water-based versions, but over the long term, it is much more expensive to run.

The water-based under-floor systems should be fitted by a professional who will understand the complex process of plumbing connections that are required and the tests that need to be carried out.

Advantages of under-floor heating:

  • Low maintenance once it is fitted. If professionally fitted, the installation should come with at least a 25-year guarantee.
  • The system is completely hidden beneath your floors, so that there is no need for unsightly vents or radiators. This will free up floor and wall space for furnishings.
  • Cost effective – the system should see a reduction in heating bills from anything between 15% and 50%.
  • The initial costs of the system, particularly the water based version, might be on the high side, but the long term gains and savings will more than compensate for the outlay.
  • Each room has its own thermostat so that the temperature can be chosen and controlled, (unlike radiators where thermostatic valves have proved to be unreliable). Costs can be lower as rooms that are rarely used need not be heated.
  • The temperature will be more consistent than conventional radiators as the heat is more evenly dispersed around the room.
  • Those suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems will benefit, since this heating doesn’t move air around. Therefore, any dust and other allergens present will be less likely to be disturbed into the atmosphere. Also, dust mites will be deterred because the heated floor makes an unsuitable environment for them to live and breed.
  • This type of heating is particularly suited to bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Any water spills evaporate much more quickly; hence this can help to avoid slippery floors and potential accidents.
  • Under-floor heating systems are much quieter than say, ducted air systems, and the system is compatible with most flooring on the market, including solid wood, compressed wood, laminate, and natural stone.

Disadvantages:

  • There have been complaints by users that under-floor heating can take longer to heat up than more traditional systems. This could, however, be due to inadequate sizing or inappropriate installation.
  • Fitting water-based systems to existing builds is not recommended as they can be both impractical and expensive to install. Panel radiators, which operate off the same principle, may be a practical alternative.
  • The heating must be well designed from the word go. In the case of water-based heating, it is incredibly difficult to change or alter once it has been installed.
  • Some users have complained about ‘hot feet’, since the temperature at floor level will inevitably be raised.

If you choose the water-based under-floor heating system, ensure that you have an efficiency test performed to assess the suitability for your build, and also that you contract an experienced professional company to handle the installation.

As with all things in life, it pays to buy the best quality that you can afford, no matter which type of heating you