What is Hydronic Floor Heating?

Under-floor heating is a popular way of keeping a home comfortably warm. There are two main methods of under-floor heating: electric and hydronic systems. Homeowners who are considering installing an under-floor heating system should discuss the plans with their Massachusetts home insurance provider since a change in the method of heating a home may have implications for home insurance.

Hydronic floor heating works by circulating warmed water through pipes set in the floor. Pipes are made from tough plastic such as PEX, a durable material that is not affected by water or concrete. The pipes can be laid into the concrete floor slab, set into a thin layer of concrete or screed on top of the slab, or laid directly beneath the floorboards.

The boiler that heats the water circulating through a hydronic system may be powered by natural gas, electricity, oil, propane or wood. Geothermal heat pumps that work by pulling heat from the ground are often used to heat water for hydronic systems. Solar energy is a highly efficient way of powering the boiler but alternative backup power is needed on cloudy days.

Hydronic floor heating systems should be designed by specialists who can estimate the heating load of each room in a house and asses the water temperature, pipe spacing and flow rate that are needed to achieve the required heat output. The specialist needs to take account of the floor covering in any room in order to design an efficient hydronic floor heating system. It’s recommended that homeowners who install a hydronic floor heating system contact their agent or insurer so that¬†Massachusetts home insurance¬†coverage can be reviewed and adjusted if necessary.

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