There is nothing new about underfloor heating as there is evidence of it going back to Roman times and before. In those days, they had trenches cut in the floors of homes which were covered with stones and heated from a strategically placed fire. So there is nothing new in principle, although the heating processes have changed somewhat.
Today, underfloor heating in Reading, or anywhere else, can be either electric or use a water-based system. An electric system uses either heating wires or a heating mat which is connected to the electricity supply. With a water-based system, water is heated by a heat source and is pumped through pipes under the floor. An electric system is quicker and cheaper to install than a water-based system and can take as little as half an hour if a heating mat is being used. However, although a water-based system takes longer to install and is more expensive, the long-term running costs will be less than electric systems, especially if a ground-source or air-source heat pump is used.
Both systems use radiant heat technology to gently warm up the room from the floor upwards including the people and objects in the room. This differs from a radiator system which simply heats the air in the room and is not as efficient, yet more expensive to run. Electric underfloor heating systems use either a cable which is a free-form electric wire and can be installed either on to or within the subfloor, or a heating mat which has a thin heating wires pre-attached and which can be simply rolled out on to the subfloor.
Water systems are also known as hydronic underfloor heating, and use water which is heated by a boiler or heat pump and is pumped through the underfloor pipes by an electric pump. Water systems are usually recommended for a new build project and are installed in a thick layer of screed. If you are working on a renovation project rather than new build, the advantage of an electric system is that it will not significantly increase the height of the floor.
Electric systems are fine for use as a heat source in small rooms such as a bathroom, but when it comes to larger rooms you will get better energy efficiency using a water-based system. Both systems will benefit from the installation of a high-quality insulation layer, but again this takes up space which can be allowed for in a new build project but will raise the floor height in a renovation.
At UK Screeds, we install and commission water-based underfloor heating systems by first preparing the subfloor with cleaning and brushing so that it is flat and ready to take the insulation if it is being used. If there are any service pipes, the insulation boards need to have a channel cut in them in order to accommodate the pipes. Then a 500-gauge plastic membrane is laid on top and is pulled tight so that there are no creases, and is run up the walls at the edge by 100mm where the edging strip can be laid on top.
Next, the heating pipes are laid on top of the membrane and either screwed down or stapled at distances not exceeding 300mm because if longer gaps are left, the heating pipes will float up to the surface of the screed. We then fill the heating pipes with water and perform a pressure test in order to make certain that there are no leaks.
The next job is to install the screed. Only approved installers such as UK Screeds can install liquid anhydrite screed. We set up the pump and setup multiple tripods and agree to a datum level with you. When the mixer truck arrives, we will then pump the screed on to the floor and dapple it in two directions in order to remove any air bubbles and make certain that it is completely level. After this, the screed must be left to dry for 24 – 48 hours before it can be walked on. During this time no traffic must be allowed to enter. After that, light foot traffic is fine, and other contractors can carry out their work.