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How do you feel about cement floors with floor heating elements

 
Posts: 1762
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Paul often talks about radiant heat being better. So the question is, can you heat your house through radiant floor heat? I think my house, and my life, call for cement floors. Ideally with radiant heat under them. This has me wondering if I could get rid of the furnace if we heat the floors.
 
pollinator
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Location: CW Ontario, Zone 5
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I suppose it depends...

How would you heat the floor? Using a wood stove to heat the water that flows through the pipes under your floor?

Are you talking about a fresh build where you would install everything from scratch or do you have a place you are living in already and want to put in-floor heating in? Might be pretty costly to do a renovation to install.

I would say if you have a wood stove to heat the radiant floor with then you could use that combo as your only source of heat.
 
elle sagenev
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Simon Johnson wrote:I suppose it depends...

How would you heat the floor? Using a wood stove to heat the water that flows through the pipes under your floor?

Are you talking about a fresh build where you would install everything from scratch or do you have a place you are living in already and want to put in-floor heating in? Might be pretty costly to do a renovation to install.

I would say if you have a wood stove to heat the radiant floor with then you could use that combo as your only source of heat.



It would be electric heating. We live in an area that would be good for wind turbines. It would be a reno and I understand it would be expensive. Money is my husbands concern. Ha!

I don't know about using wood for heating. I'm not sure I like the idea of it. We have no woods here. I'd have to import all of the wood, maybe from out of state.
 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
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elle sagenev wrote:
It would be electric heating. We live in an area that would be good for wind turbines. It would be a reno and I understand it would be expensive. Money is my husbands concern. Ha!

I don't know about using wood for heating. I'm not sure I like the idea of it. We have no woods here. I'd have to import all of the wood, maybe from out of state.



I don't expect this would pay off over your furnace. Electricity isn't cheap, fresh concrete floor isn't cheap, and heating coil set up isn't cheap. In my opinion I think you could in theory heat your home using only this method, but it will cost you a lot to switch from your current furnace and I don't think it will be cheaper to run than your furnace either.

It would probably feel really nice on your feet to walk around on a warm floor though
 
elle sagenev
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Simon Johnson wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:
It would be electric heating. We live in an area that would be good for wind turbines. It would be a reno and I understand it would be expensive. Money is my husbands concern. Ha!

I don't know about using wood for heating. I'm not sure I like the idea of it. We have no woods here. I'd have to import all of the wood, maybe from out of state.



I don't expect this would pay off over your furnace. Electricity isn't cheap, fresh concrete floor isn't cheap, and heating coil set up isn't cheap. In my opinion I think you could in theory heat your home using only this method, but it will cost you a lot to switch from your current furnace and I don't think it will be cheaper to run than your furnace either.

It would probably feel really nice on your feet to walk around on a warm floor though



The concrete will happen regardless. We have wood right now and with 3 100+ lb dogs and then us humans it is getting ripped up. I want concrete for it's hardiness. Plus we have a few spots where the house was shoddily done and so it's not completely level. Concrete would help level that out.

But, I guess I don't have to put the heat under it. Though I feel we should just because it'll be awfully cold if we don't.
 
master steward
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The most comfortable houses, (and tents), that I ever stayed in had radiant heated cement floors. What a glorious heating strategy for a house!!! They were operated from geothermal hot springs, so the heat was free.
 
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Simon Johnson wrote:It would probably feel really nice on your feet to walk around on a warm floor though



It's freakin amazing. It feels SO GOOD. Good gracious is it pleasant.

It's absolutely possible to heat the whole house that way. In fact, it's not uncommon. (Source: I go into people's houses for a living.)

It's much more often done with water than with electricity, though. I've never looked into WHY that is, but I expect it's because of the cost of PEX tubing vs. whatever sort of electrically resistive element you would need.

You already have hot water in the house (whether gas, electric, or otherwise, we don't yet know), so plan on upgrading the capacity of the water heater, and hooking up the heating loops to it.

elle sagenev wrote:The concrete will happen regardless



Then definitely! Don't miss this opportunity to put in something that will make you extremely happy every winter!
 
elle sagenev
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Mike Cantrell wrote:

Simon Johnson wrote:It would probably feel really nice on your feet to walk around on a warm floor though



It's freakin amazing. It feels SO GOOD. Good gracious is it pleasant.

It's absolutely possible to heat the whole house that way. In fact, it's not uncommon. (Source: I go into people's houses for a living.)

It's much more often done with water than with electricity, though. I've never looked into WHY that is, but I expect it's because of the cost of PEX tubing vs. whatever sort of electrically resistive element you would need.

You already have hot water in the house (whether gas, electric, or otherwise, we don't yet know), so plan on upgrading the capacity of the water heater, and hooking up the heating loops to it.

elle sagenev wrote:The concrete will happen regardless



Then definitely! Don't miss this opportunity to put in something that will make you extremely happy every winter!



The downside is that propane is so freakishly expensive and our water heater is propane. Though there are electric so we should look into that.
 
gardener
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Heat pump water heater? Might kill your propane bill and efficiently heat all your water.
Also, heating water is often suggested as a "dump load ",a way to use excess generation from wind and solar.
 
pollinator
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I have found that heated floors make a huge comfort difference in poorly built, poorly insulated houses.

If a house is well insulated, hot water baseboards can work just about as well, since the whole house reaches approximately the same temperature.
 
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My biggest regret from building my last house was not putting the radiant pipes in the basement floor.

Like Dale said, they make a huge difference especially in a poorly insulated or open (like from kids or dogs constantly going in and out) house. But done wrong and all the heat gets wicked away into the surrounding dirt. A guy down the road built a shop with a "heated" floor but went cheap with poor insulation and isolation of the slab and the system is worthless.

You can do electric heat for a reasonable price in small areas, like a bathroom or entryway, with a tile floor on top of wood. Big box stores sell the kit to DIY, just put the heating pad down in the mortar as you lay the tile.
 
elle sagenev
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Well ya'll have me excited to change the floor now!
 
gardener
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Just adding to the chorus Radiant heat in concrete floors is amazing! It will let you be comfortable with a distinctly lower air temperature too. It doesn't work nearly as well in wood floors. My basement floor (living space) was poorly done concrete, and I added tubing and 2" of good concrete before the wall finishing or doors went up.
The main floor heats some through the wood, but rugs cut that down; the entry has tubing in 2" of concrete for stone flooring carried on a dropped plywood subfloor, and that part is gloriously warm when the wood floor next to it is just barely comfortable.
 
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Please see this post...the recommendations are about the same...

In-floor hydronic heating experiences

Regards,

j
 
Posts: 1947
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I agree, radiant floor heat is so pleasant.

Important to note- a friend had a lovely hot water radiant floor put in to her child care center, so nice for the babies. Over one Christmas break the pipes froze and burst and ruined so much. What a mess.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Excellent point Matu, and why I stress to folks that "hydronic systems" must be well designed, and facilitated by folks that really understand them. Additionally why a "natural build" and not "encapsulating them in a material like concrete is so important. Repairs alone become a nightmare of hassle and cost....
 
steward
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No one's mentioned using solar panels to heat the water? That's what our neighbors did, and what we will do if we ever get to that stage of building. Even in winter, they are getting good heat, topped up as necessary with a conventional water heater. They used a new septic tank inside another, new, buried, septic tank, about a foot of air gap all around, as a holding tank. Water pumps from the panels to the tank, then into the floors as needed, but continuously loops and heats the tank water.

Elle, there is an alternative to pex, warmboard, that lays down in sheets, kind of plug and play, that might work better in a remodel situation. Don't know, haven't used it, may be competitors, but wanted to mention it. We have concrete floors, but I now wish I'd done tile.
 
pollinator
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I don't know that this is actually worth a Thread all its own ?!? But the link below suggests that this self sealing/repairing ability might be a great form of Insurance
for an in floor heating unit -


http://weburbanist.com/2015/05/19/fresh-biocement-worlds-first-self-healing-concrete-building/


- This needs a little more research ! For the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
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We've been in our home for 2 winters. House was built in early 60's with concrete floors and hydronic heat. We also have conventional heat/ac. I had never had warm floors before, they are wonderful. We never use the conventional system for heat. Our home is 1400 sq ft ranch. Not terribly well insulated, but I find this heating to be the most comfortable, quiet, and economical system we've ever experienced. Our gas boiler installed about 15 years back, it isn't the "top of the line" for efficiency. We've found the warm floor allows us to keep the air temp a little lower. Biggest issue is the lag time when your weather takes a big change, house will be cool for a while until the floor heats up and starts radiating warmth, reverse is true, house will be warmer than desired when outdoor temp goes up, but floor is warm and still radiating.
 
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Consider this: If you lay all the PEX in the new concrete floor, and never decide to go with hydronic heating, you'll have forgotten the cost of the PEX in a few years. If you decide not to lay the PEX in the floor, and one day want hydronic heating, you'll regret it forever.
 
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Radiant floors do have one problem: they are susceptible to legionella...
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello All,

I have been (for the most part) quietly following along...

As a staunch traditionalist and I guess I could be called "extremist" when it comes to "what is sustainable, efficient, and natural" within the building envelope...I really strongly dislike modern OPC concretes. The huge carbon footprint and pollutions (up to 15% to 20% of the planet's annual exposure comes from concrete manufacturing industry) that concrete contributes is simply something I refuse to support or facilitate in every way I possibly can...

I love "radiant heat" but know one of the primary patent holders for these many modern system (founder/owner of Radiatec) I can state with some confidence that...It does not have to be embedded in the concrete and there are numerous effective alternatives. So "adding it later" or "changing it" or "updating it" or " repairing it" does not have to evolve concrete at all. If one chooses to use OPC concretes...so be it...but that is not the only (or best choice in my view) to the many wonderful benefits of Radiant Heat...

I would also point out that the "fear of legionella" is typically only found in "closed loop systems" or " low use open systems" and I am not aware of there ever being an "active culture" ever collected in the field by anyone. I would love to read or know more of "positive diagnosis" for this pathogen, as I have found one of substance yet accept in "air filtration systems" within "air to air" heat exchangers (which I do not support at all in my architecture.) If there is new evidence, I would love to read it...Thanks.

Regards,

j
 
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