Underfloor heating (UFH) is becoming a more popular choice for heating homes, and rising energy costs coupled with upcoming changes to Building Regulations mean this is likely to continue.
In this guide we give some top tips on what plumbers need to know about UFH.
UFH was once seen as something you only found in high-end kitchens and bathrooms – a luxury addition to an existing heating system. But that is changing, and quickly. There are a few reasons for this, including changes to Building Regulations that will demand lower heat output in homes, as well as the general move towards carbon-free heating.
It means that you’re going to be working with UFH on a more regular basis, which is why we have created this guide to help you become a pro when installing it.
It’s what is underneath that counts
A motto that applies to a lot of what plumbers do. A completed underfloor heating system only tells half the story, and a big part of getting it right comes down to…well, putting in the groundwork.
When approaching installation, you need to think ‘build-up’ first – which is the depth of a floor. This will impact the type of system that is implemented and the size of the pipes that go in.
This is important for two main reasons. Firstly, the surface of the floor needs to stay level. Secondly, the size of a pipe affects the flow rate, and the number of coils which may need to be installed. If smaller diameter pipes are required due to a limited floor build-up, then flow rates are harder to achieve. As with all things plumbing, prep and forward planning is key to a good installation.
Stay in control
Underfloor heating control systems can often be just as important as the UFH itself. This is where plumbers have a massive role to play in helping their customers understand how these work.
Traditional gas boiler/radiator systems work by heating a space up to a desired temperature, using thermostats to turn the system on or off. Radiators can be controlled individually, which is useful for rooms that require more or less heating, or perhaps aren’t even occupied. This is not automatically the case with UFH, which is where controls come in.
Zoning is the term used for UFH to manage the heat within a home, where different rooms can be set to achieve different temperatures. This massively increases the efficiency of the system. The fact that it heats space consistently over a greater surface area, rather than a radiator in the corner pumping out heat, is great from a running costs perspective, and will also lead to a far more comfortable home.
A warm customer is a happy customer, and one whose utility bills aren’t sky-rocketing is even happier. So, stressing the importance of controls and installing UFH in a way that allows zoning is vital.
Be the expert
Customers rely on their plumbers for a whole range of things, but something that will be new to them is how to use their heating. We’ve used radiators for decades, so it’s a method that everyone is familiar with. UFH is a little more novel, so if people stick to what they’ve always done and don’t change their habits, they won’t see the results.