Tough love: underfloor heating in old buildings

Published:  11 February, 2016

Tony Lovell gives his top tips for renovating with UFH

Today, many people choose to install UFH when building a new house, and with good reason, since it ensures both comfort and energy efficiency.

However, the trend has yet to fulfill its potential when it comes to the old house market. Old houses are like people; with age, they may get rough around edges, but a lot of charm, too. Thankfully, UFH is suited in every kind of building, including the more challenging ones.

Here are some tips that might come handy:

Choose the right board

  • When renovating, construction limitations must be kept in mind. For this reason, it is important to choose products, which keep build heights to a minimum. Use an insulated, pre-slotted board, not more than 16 mm thick, which can be installedover existing floors. It should be light weight and easy to cut and shape.
  • An ultra-high density insulation, I recommend 400 kpa minimum, ensures long term strength.
  • Do yourself a favour and pick a board which can be tiled over directly. This saves cost and helps keeping floor depth to a minimum.
  • Boards made with an 0,6mm aluminum surface layer are really efficient heat emitters too. Heat from the pipes is spread evenly across the entire floor surface, with little downward heat loss.

Houses with irregular spaced joists?

  • Go for 22mm structural particle board pre-routed for aluminum heat emission plates and 16mm pipe.
  • Fix over the joists, then float parquet, wood or laminate directly over.
  • Great for low temperature systems, such as Heat-Pumps, as thermal resistance is minimized.

 It’s all about control

  • The only component of the floor heating installation you see is the room thermostat. Individual room regulation ensures that each room has just the right temperature. Thermostats are placed in all rooms to detect and communicate the room’s heating needs, which may differ a lot, especially in old buildings.
  • For optimal energy efficiency and comfort, choose a control system that can communicate using the Modbus protocol for connection to the general building automatics.

Installing UFH in an old house is no longer a problem. Enjoy a high degree of comfort, energy efficiency and the original beauty of old houses, not compromised by disturbing radiators. 

Tony Lovell is LK International's UK partner

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