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Finding A Heating Contractor For Radiant Systems

Nothing beats the warmth under your feet from radiant heating. If you're considering this type of system, it pays to find an experienced heating contractor. This is not a do-it-yourself home improvement project, because it requires expertise in heating, cooling, and heat loss.

Finding a Heating Contractor

If you are adding electric radiant heat, start with your regular heating contractor or electrician. Ask if they install radiant heat and how long they have been working with it. This is still somewhat of a specialty area, so your search may take several telephone calls. Also ask what type of training the contractor has received and whether they warranty their work and for how long.

An Internet search can help you locate a local chapter of professional organizations that represent heating contractors and radiant heating contractors. They should be able to provide recommendations or other information about selecting a contractor.

Hydronic or Electric?

The two main types of radiant heating are hydronic, which works with a boiler, and electric. As you interview contractors, ask for advice on which system best fits your situation. Typically, if you are installing radiant heat in a large area and/or you already have a boiler or are planning to add one, then hydronic heating makes sense.

If you are adding radiant heat in a small area, such as a bathroom, and do not have a boiler, then electric heat often is more economical. While it may cost more to heat the space with electric heat, the space is small and you save the cost of a boiler. An advantage of electric heat is that you can use it anytime of the year, even when the boiler is not running, which makes it ideal for those chilly fall nights.

Questions to Ask

When talking with heating contractors, ask how they install the system. Electric radiant heating is installed as a blanket or heating mat product that goes under the floor. Hydronic heating is embedded in concrete or attached on top or beneath the subfloor. It is connected to the boiler through a series of pipes. Larger projects can be zoned by area or room, another technical aspect to discuss with the contractor.

Before installing a system, the contractor should do a heat loss evaluation to determine how much heat is needed from a radiant system. There are precise calculations that tell the contractor how much piping or electric heating to install. A heating contractor who understands radiant systems should be straightforward about explaining the heat loss calculation and other aspects of the system. Avoid any contractor who brushes aside such questions.

This is one home improvement project that can have a tremendous impact on your physical comfort. Take the time and do the research to ensure the project goes smoothly.