Hydronic Heating Systems Explained

Once upon a time, there were only one or two basic ways to heat a home. Today, however, there are so many options available that it can be difficult to stay on top of them all. If you would like to learn more about an exciting yet lesser-known heating method, read on. This article will provide an overview of hydronic heating systems.

Hydronic System Basics

Hydronic heating falls into the category of infloor heating systems. In such systems, the heat source--in this case, hot water filled pipes--are located just beneath the floors of your home. The radiant heat provided by such a system differs greatly from that of a furnace. You see, radiant heat doesn't act by simply heating the air, it heats the objects inside of your home as well. This leads to less fluctuations in temperature--not to mention nice warm floors.

Components Of A Hydronic System

The three crucial components of a hydronic system are the heat source, the pump, and the piping needed to conduct the hot water. The heat source may consist of either a boiler or a regular hot water heater. The important thing is that the heat source be properly sized to provide enough hot water for the system. If you are hoping to add hydronic heating to just one room, you may be able to utilize your existing water heater. Whole house hydronic systems, on the other hand, will require a dedicated heat source.

The pump is responsible for sending the heated water up into the looped network of pipes. These pipes are comprised of a special type of plastic tubing known as PEX. This flexible tubing has the benefit of being both less expensive and easier to work with than rigid pipes. Finally, more extensive hydronic heating systems will require some additional components. Multiple pumps may be needed to ensure even water flow. Likewise, electric zone valves can be installed to allow you to select which rooms are receiving hot water at any given time.

PEX Installation

There are two methods of installing PEX tubing. The simplest, as well as the least expensive, is to attach the PEX between the joists along the bottom of the subfloor. This is done using metal plates that help to support the tubing, as well as to transfer heat to the floor. The outside of the PEX tubing is then insulated using fiberglass batt insulation.

A more involved, yet also more efficient, method involves installing the PEX on top of the floor. This method is the only choice when dealing with solid floors made of concrete or other substances. Here, a special flooring system must first be installed. This system contains grooves into which the PEX tubing is then laid. Alternately, the tubing can be embedded in self-leveling compound. Either way, expect to pay much more to have this style of hydronic heating installed.

For more information, contact Valley Plumbing Company or a similar organization.