The details, features, and characteristics of older homes makes them desirable to many people. The building designs are unique and one-of-a-kind, and of course, were built before many of the technology we use today. However, modernizing the heating system in these classic homes, while maintaining their allure, is easier than you may think.
Infloor’s Radiant Trak underfloor hydronic radiant heating is a perfect solution for heating older homes. There is no need for duct work, is powered by a gas boiler, and is easily installed under the floor with our pre-drilled plates and C-Channel construction enabling tubing to be simply “snapped” into place. Radiant Trak is an alternative installation method to slab, gypcrete, Infloorboard, or Warmboard, and is most commonly found in retrofit applications.
Infloor Radiant Trak is the ultimate underfloor heating method due to the heat transfer plates and easy installation. The high quality extruded aluminum is installed between the joist spaces on the underside of the subfloor, providing heat transfer between the plates and the subfloor, warming the entire plate and floor. Radiant Trak is inexpensive to install and can be utilized for floor warming or for primary space heating and is versatile enough to be used in most applications.
Understanding basic heat transfer
Radiant Trak works by way of conduction, which is the transfer of heat between substances that are in direct contact with each other. The better the conductor, the more rapidly the heat will transfer. Metals are great heat conductors, while wood, air, and styrofoam are poor conductors (insulators).
“Conduction heat transfer requires ample contact area between the tubing and the other materials in the floor,” said John Siegenthaler in his article titled Plateless in Radiantville. He believes, as we do, that the use of plates in an underfloor radiant heating system is very important, and far superior to a staple-up installation. “There’s nothing magical about PEX, PEX-AL-PEX, EPDM, or copper tubing that allows any of them to sidestep basic physics,” he wrote.
“Radiant Trak is a great choice for retrofitting older homes,” shared Michael Willburn, President of Infloor Heating Systems. “It is a superior product that is easy to install. The plates come with pre-drilled holes, so the contractor just has to use short screws to attach them to the subfloor, then snap the tubing in place.”
“The use of heat transfer plates is a must in an underfloor application,” said Michael. “The plates spread the heat more evenly across a larger surface area, requiring a lower water temperature to achieve desired results,” he said.
Simply stapling tubing to the subfloor presents many potential problems, including puncturing the tube during installation, staples not allowing for tube expansion, spotted heating areas due to poor heat conduction, creating a loud ticking noise, and is more labor intensive to install.
John wrote in his article, “Sure, plateless systems cost less than plated systems. Likewise, roll roofing costs less than 30-year warranted shingles, and a light bulb screwed into a porcelain base costs less than a chandelier.”
When done correctly, Radiant Trak underfloor radiant heating provides tremendous satisfaction to those who live with it, as well as those who install it. The heat transfer plates are 4′ L x 4″ W and can be placed 1-2″ apart. They come with pre-drilled holes and are attached to the subfloor with short screws, and can be cut down to size if needed. (We recommend filing the inside edge of any cut plates so there are no sharp edges.) Tubing is placed 8″ on center and easily snaps into the C-Channel on the plate. Radiant Trak has the best results with hardwood and tile flooring.
As with any radiant heating system, proper insulation is recommended. We suggest using an insulation rated at R-13 or higher, placed directly against the tubing. There is no need for a 2″ air gap or foil-faced insulation.
We can also zone Radiant Trak systems, for ultimate control and comfort. Zoning allows you to easily control the temperature in different rooms (or zones), applying more heat in living spaces and less in unused rooms, further maximizing energy savings.
Let Infloor design your next project
We can help you design your next Radiant Trak installation, or any radiant heating application you may have. Using our LOOPCAD design software, we can provide you a detailed project design and help guide you through the installation process if you’d like. Click HERE to get started! We are here to help you with all your radiant heating needs and questions. Feel free to contact us for answers to your questions, parts, service, and support.
“The radiant industry is about selling comfort, quality, and efficiency,” John wrote. “Remember that you’re not just deciding where to buy tubing, you’re selecting a business partner that should have the same goal of supplying your customer with a quality heating system.”