What Is Underfloor Heating?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Underfloor heating is a heating system installed underneath a floor that warms a structure through radiant heating. Cooling and combination heating/cooling systems are also available. A number of manufacturers produce components for such systems. Consumers can create their own for custom projects or special needs like harnessing geothermal heat to control indoor temperatures.


There are a number of uses for underfloor heating. It can increase comfort by keeping floors warm, and may contribute to the overall heating and cooling system in a structure. On mild days, it may be possible to keep a structure warm enough to use through the underfloor heating alone. On especially cold days, it may work in combination with other systems. Cooling systems can also stand alone or work cooperatively with other systems.

Some underfloor heating consists of electric elements that can be adjusted with a thermostat to control the amount of heat they release. Others pump fluids in tubes underneath the floor. This can be useful with geothermal or solar power, where warm water can be passed through the floor to heat rooms as it moves on to a final destination like a shower. Fluid circulation systems can also operate on a chiller in hot weather.

The location of the heating and cooling elements can vary, depending on the make and model. Some are located under the floor while others may be inside of it, as seen in the case of concrete slab foundations. One drawback to installing underfloor heating inside the floor components is that servicing can be much harder. If people have to jackhammer concrete to get to the tubing, for example, it can make it difficult to enact repairs. This is a consideration to think about when designing and ordering such a system.

It is possible to install underfloor heating in a new home or to retrofit an existing one to accommodate it. A good time to do this is when floors are already being replaced, refinished, or repaired. As long as the flooring is torn up, it will be relatively easy to install and test a heating system before returning the flooring to position.

Warranties and guarantees may be provided with some systems. The company can refund or replace broken components, or remove the system if the owner is not satisfied. Consumers may want to get information about replacement and repair options when they price systems, as it can be important to have this on hand.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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