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Electric Radiant-Floor Heating


Ceramic, slate, and tile floors are elegant and durable, although they often feel cold even at comfortable room temperatures. Radiant-floor heating systems are an effective and economical method of removing the chill from ceramic, marble, or stone-type floors. Installed between the sub floor and the finish flooring material, these cables will heat the floor to a comfortable warm temperature with a minimal use of electricity.

Heating Systems. There are a number of these products on the market, but in general they consist of an insulated, flexible resistance-type heating element with attached no heating leads. The product shown here has the conductors contained in a fabric material. The fabric keeps the conductors spaced properly.

Where the final flooring is tile or stone, the system should have a heat density of 10 or 15 watts per square foot. The National Electrical Code requires that these systems be provided with ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection.

Floor Preparation. Heating cable may be installed over wood flooring. Drive protruding nails flush or below the flooring, and sand uneven edges where floorboards come together. Nail down any loose flooring. For concrete floor installation, remove all debris, and grind down sharp edges of small cracks. Some manufacturers recommend installing a thermal barrier or layer of insulation under the heating cables. Secure the thermal barrier to the floor with a high-temperature adhesive.

Testing Cables. Unpack the heating cable, and check the ohms, or resistance between the two conductor wires, to ensure that there is no break in the non heating and resistance conductors. Each set of heating cables is marked with the proper ohms. Follow the manufacturerís testing procedures carefully. They are designed to keep you from tiling over a heating system that does not work.

Placing Cables. Plan the heating-cable layout. Remember that the non heating conductors must be able to reach the control unit, which wilt be mounted on the wall. Donít overlap the heating cables, and do not allow the non heating leads to overlap the heating area of the mat. The National Electrical Code requires non heating conductors to be protected where they leave the floor by rigid metal conduit, rigid nonmetallic conduit, or by other approved means.

 

Installing radiant-floor heating

Radiant heat can be used in any room, especially if it is specified when the house is being built. But in the remodeling world, the most popular room for installing radiant heat is unquestionably the bathroom. There is nothing quite like stepping out of the shower onto a warm floor when itís about 10 degrees out side. In most cases, these systems are used under ceramic tile.

 

Step 1. Determine where you want radiant heat. Thereís no need to cover the entire floor, just the areas where you commonly walk or stand in bare feet. Cover this part of the floor with thinset mortar; let it dry; and install the fabric and cable over the thinset.

 

Step 2. Locate the best spot for the temperature sensor by following the instructions that come with the radiant heating components. Use duct tape to hold the sensor cable in place on the heating pad. Make sure the cable falls between the heating elements.

Step 3. Spread a layer of thinset adhesive over the heating  pad, and start laying tiles. Donít cover the entire floor with adhesive. Spread only as much as you can comfortably cover with tile before the thinset dries. Consult the product container for drying times. When all the tiles are laid and dry, grout the joints.

 

Step 4. Mount an outlet box on the side of a stud, and bring a power cable into the box. Bring the power wires from the heating mat, through rigid conduit, into the other side of the box. Join the like-colored wires using wire connectors.

 

Step 5. Once the power hookups are done, install the temperature sensor cables to special terminals on the controller thermostat. Follow the product instructions for the specific unit you are installing.

 

 

 

 

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