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Warm Floors, Slowly

Radiant heat is great underfoot, but it takes time

Richard Trehewey holds a toilet

I love warm floors on a cold morning, so when we remodeled our kitchen
we had an electric radiant heating grid installed under the new tile.
It's great when it heats up, but takes almost 30 minutes. What's wrong?

— Helen, Westbrook, CT


Richard Trethewey replies: Your floor is fine, but your expectations may
need a little fine-tuning. Radiant floors of any type, whether electric
or hydronic, aren't like forced-air heating systems — turning up
the thermostat doesn't produce instant heat. Before a floor can radiate
heat, its mass has to heat up, and that takes time, particularly when
the surface is covered with tile. Some people put their floor's
thermostat on a timer so the surface will be warm before they get up in
the morning, The problem is that whenever the timer turns the thermostat
off, the floor unloads its heat energy, which then takes a while to
reload. My recommendation: Set the thermostat to 66 degrees or 67
degrees and don't mess with it until spring. Who wants to walk over a
cold floor in the middle of the night anyway?


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