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The Pros and Cons of In-Floor Heating

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A young woman in blue jeans walking barefoot on a hardwood floor with in-floor heating

Ah, morning! You open your eyes, swing yourself out of bed — and feel an icy shock shoot up your legs as your feet hit cold hardwood or linoleum. Sound good? Probably not. That’s why so many Calgary homeowners are attracted to the idea of in-floor heating systems.

In-floor heating allows you to walk barefoot through your home without the slightest bit of discomfort, even in the dead of winter. This is especially useful in tiled rooms, so many plumbers who offer kitchen and bathroom services can install in-floor heating as well. However, you’ll probably want to learn more about these systems before you put one in your home — which is why we’ve listed their pros and cons below. Read on, and find out if in-floor heating is right for you!

How Does In-Floor Heating Work?

There are two main types of in-floor heating: electrical and hydronic. Here’s how each one works:

Electrical In-Floor Heating

  • Electrical elements are installed beneath the floor
  • When the system is activated, electric current travels through the elements
  • The elements become warm, and heat travels up into the room through the floor, warming it in the process

Hydronic In-Floor Heating

  • Plastic tubes are installed beneath the floor and connected to a boiler
  • When the system is activated, hot water is pumped through the tubes
  • The tubes become warm and heat radiates upward, warming the floor and the room above

Hydronic heating tubes can take more time and effort to install than electric elements, especially if you’re remodelling an existing home. They also require a boiler and gas lines, so they can cost more up-front — but when heating large areas, they often become more cost-effective than their electric counterparts. 

If you only want to add in-floor heating to a small room or two in your home, electrical is probably the way to go… but if you’re building a new home and want warm floors throughout, a hydronic system is likely your best bet.

Thermostat reading 20 degrees celsius sitting on a hardwood floor in front of exposed in-floor heating elements

In-Floor Heating Benefits

Both kinds of in-floor heating can bring major advantages to those who use them. Here are some of the main ones:

Warmth All Over

Isn’t it nice when a room is the same temperature throughout? We think so. Unfortunately, that’s not always what you get with other heating systems. Who wants to feel cold as soon as they move away from a radiator or heating vent? Not you.

Little-to-No Maintenance

Unless there’s an emergency, your in-floor heating systems will likely last for years without needing professional care. In fact, we only recommend checking and changing the liquid in our hydronic systems once each decade.

Silent but Comfy

Say goodbye to the distracting sound of your furnace turning on, and hello to quiet luxury. In-floor heating systems operate without noise, making it easy to raise the temperature without raising hell in the process.

In-Floor Heating Drawbacks

In-floor heating can make your life at home very comfortable, but it can also come with challenges. If you’re considering this technology for your home, keep in mind the following:

Out with the Old

Adding in-floor heating during new home construction is the most cost-effective and simplest way to do it. You can do it while remodelling, but it usually requires additional contractors and labour costs. The concrete floor needs to be removed to add in-floor heating, which most plumbing companies can’t do.

Close(r) Quarters

Putting anything underneath your floor is going to raise it up a little, subtly reducing the distance between floor and ceiling. However, the amount of space that you’ll lose by installing an in-floor heating system will usually be just a few inches or less — so unless your ceilings are already low, you probably won’t notice.

But at What Cost?

The exact price of in-floor heating will vary from one home to the next, due to numerous factors. However, most in-floor heating costs about $6-8 per square foot in Canada. 

Major discrepancies are usually the result of extra features (such as a distribution system for additional temperature control between rooms) or access problems during the installation. 

In most cases, the most cost effective way to add in-floor heating to your home is to do it when the home is being built. It is possible to add in-floor heating to an existing home, but it is much more costly as it involves removing the entire floor, including concrete.

Is In-Floor Heating Right for Your Home?

In-floor heating can be a quiet, unobtrusive way to spread heat evenly throughout your floors and into the rooms of your home. It’s not always cheap and you’ll have to be comfortable with raising your floors a little — but as long as you time the work conveniently and don’t live in a hobbit-hole, you should be fine. 

Just remember to use licensed contractors who have experience with the kind of in-floor heating you want, so that you can count on a quality installation and enjoy the benefits of this technology for many years to come.

Written by Jack Devetten

The company was built on dedication to quality services, skilled and experienced technicians, and competitive prices. Our owner, Jack Devetten, brings more than 45 years of experience with him. All our staff members are focused on delivering 100% satisfaction on every job they do – we guarantee it!
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