How Long Does Radiant Floor Heating Last?

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Imagine waking up one winter morning with evenly heated floors as you pour your cup of coffee. Radiant floor heating can accomplish this, but, you may want to know how long does radiant floor heating last. We will give you all of the answers to help you decide if radiant heating is the right system for you and your house.

The average lifespan of an electric radiant floor heating system is 30-45 years. Many of these systems come with a 25-year warranty. A hydronic radiant floor heating system has a 15-20 year replacement time for the boiler, while a tankless boiler can last 20 years or more. The pex pipes under the flooring can last 30-50 years or longer without needing to be replaced.

If you have more questions about radiant flooring, don't fret. In this guide, we'll discuss the cost, longevity, and more of radiant floor heating. Just keep reading!

Radiant floor heating system, How Long Does Radiant Floor Heating Last?

The Longevity Of Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant heat pipes or electric wires run under the floor and can last 30 plus years without any maintenance required. One potential problem for hydronic systems is that the water pipes could freeze and cause leaks if the system was disabled for a period of time in freezing temperatures. This can be prevented by keeping the system running at a low temperature while you are not occupying the home.

The boiler or tankless system for the hydronic radiant heat will also require maintenance and inspection to ensure its longevity. A boiler can last from 15 to 25 years while the average lifespan for a tankless heater is 20 years.

The Cost Of Radiant Floor Heating

Hydronic systems are more costly to install upfront because it requires a boiler that can cost from $4,000 to $8,000. Electric systems are much more costly over time because it is a higher cost for electricity than the cost to run a radiant hot water system. Electric systems are considered a better option for spot heating. You might do this if certain rooms or areas of your house are cooler than others. It's easier to install than hydronic heating when remodeling an existing home.

When Is Hydronic Heating Better?

Hydronic radiant heating can be used to heat an entire house and will save you money over the life of the system. It is more energy-efficient, but it is also more effective in heating the house evenly throughout. A hydronic heating system is best installed during the original construction of the house.

 Close up on water floor heating system interior installation

What Type Of Flooring Is Best For Radiant Heat?

The best flooring for radiant heating has high thermal conductivity, such as tile and stone. These types of materials transfer the heat quickly and efficiently. Other materials like marble also work well but will take more time to initially heat when the system is turned off.

Some kinds of wood flooring are appropriate for underfloor radiant heat, but you should check with the manufacturer. Heating wood floors should not exceed 80 degrees, whereas other flooring may comfortably handle up to 85 degrees. Manufacturers do create radiant heating systems for all floor types and the only difference is the level of efficiency.

How Long Does Radiant Floor Heating Take to Warm Up?

Radiant floor heating system installation

A small area, such as a bathroom, can reach the desired temperature in 20 minutes with electric radiant heat. The same system could take up to an hour to heat a greater sized area of the home. Flooring that has higher conductivity heats up quicker.

Hydronic heating systems can take two to five hours to heat up a whole house, depending on the type of flooring and the starting temperature.

How Do You Maintain Radiant Heat?

Electric heating systems require no maintenance and can easily be adjusted by a thermostat. They also heat relatively quickly, within 20 minutes to an hour.

Hydronic heating systems require maintenance on the boiler system or tankless system. The pex pipes under the floor do not require ongoing maintenance after installation. Hydronic heat can take hours to heat up a house, depending on the starting temperature. Since the system is energy efficient, it makes sense to keep the system running throughout the day and night to maintain consistent heating.

Does Radiant Heat Increase Home Value?

Not all home improvement projects add value to your home. There isn't any evidence that suggests you will get more value out of a home with radiant heating installed. Your home's value is only determined by what someone will pay for it.

Potential buyers may not see the true value of a radiant heating system if they have only lived in homes with traditional furnace heating systems. If you are planning on selling or renting your home, then radiant heating is should not be considered to increase the value of the home.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Underfloor Heating?

The benefits and drawbacks of radiant heating depend on whether you choose an electric heating system or a hydronic system.

Electric Radiant Heating Pros

  • Easy to install - Electric radiant heat systems are installed by laying mats with cables already embedded.
  • Great for small areas - Do you want to heat the bathroom tiles so they don't feel cold in the winter? Electric radiant heat mats are the best choice.
  • No allergies or dust - Furnace heating systems blow around dust and allergens. Electric heating systems are most likely not going to replace your furnace system for the entire house, however.
  • Balanced heating - Radiant systems heat the entire floor evenly, while also distributing heat throughout the room more evenly than furnace systems.
  • Quiet - There is no noise associated with radiant heating. Furnace systems can be loud when they turn on and off many times throughout the day.
  • No maintenance - The electric radiant system is a mat that is connected to a thermostat. There is no required maintenance on these systems.

20 Square Feet Electric Floor Mat

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Electric Radiant Heating Cons

  • Expensive heating costs - Electricity is more expensive than gas for heating a home. For this reason, it is not cost-effective to install electric radiant heat throughout your home.
  • Replace flooring - Radiant heating is usually installed on the subfloor, which means you have to remove and possibly replace your flooring.
  • Not good for rooms with high ceilings - Since heat rises, it is significantly more costly to heat high ceiling rooms with radiant heat.
  • The floor height increases - The mat that is installed under the flooring can add up to a half-inch to the height of the floor. This may require a flooring transition to be installed or to have a small height increase between rooms.

Hydronic Radiant Heating Pros

  • Energy-efficient - Heating water with a gas boiler system is much more efficient than furnace systems and electric radiant heat systems. This can be used to heat an entire house
  • Can be installed with a tankless water heater - This is more energy-efficient than a boiler system and takes significantly less space in your utility room. A small tankless system can be used to heat the water for your household needs and to heat the home via the radiant heating system.
  • Long life span of pipes - The pex tubes used to bring hot water throughout the home can last as long as 40 or 50 years without any maintenance.

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Hydronic Radiant Heating Cons

  • Expensive upfront costs - This system is more costly than other traditional heating systems to install. This extra cost is offset by the monthly savings in energy expenses and the long life of the unit.
  • Longer to heat - It takes time for the water to heat up, travel throughout the house, and heat the home completely. For this reason, it does not make sense to turn the heating system down very much at night.
  • Separate air conditioning system required - The hydronic systems do not contain ductwork for central air conditioning. You would need a separate system to bring cool air into your home during hot months.

In Closing

Hydronic radiant heat systems are the most cost-effective and comfortable heating systems available. This is an ideal system for new construction. Electric radiant heat systems are the easiest and most cost-effective way of heating a small space or room.

Both systems provide evenly heated rooms without spreading allergens around the house. It can be an excellent investment for added comfort in your home and energy savings, but not the best home improvement option to add value to your home before you sell.

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