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Radiant floor Retrofit: should I consider it?

We have about 800 sq feet on the main level of our house with hardwood flooring throughout and 18 foot cathedral ceilings for about 2/3 of the space. The basement is unfinished and I've casually considered adding radiant floor heating as a supplemental system. We currently have forced air heat from a gas furnace. We live in the Mid-Atlantic with moderate winters and keep the house cool at night and when we are not home. Now I am considering finishing part of the basement. Since finishing would cover up the joist bays for the main living area, I'm wondering if I should consider adding the radiant floor heating first while the bays are still open. My understanding is that radiant floor heating can be cost efficient but I'm wondering if the installation is worth the advantage.

Does anyone have any experience with a similar situation?

Re: Radiant floor Retrofit: should I consider it?


I think your best bet, at least initially, is to consult the Yellow Pages under Heating Contractors/Radiant Heating Contractors in your area & get several of them in your basement to give you a free estimate of 1) whether your plan is advisable; 2) what's involved; 3) how long it will take; 4) how much it will cost----I think without following this process you will end up spending a lot of money on a heating remodel that is too expensive & inappropriate for your needs.

Also start out by reading a similar posting in this section called "Crawlspace installation with radiant floor heat"---also check out the other radiant heat sites you can visit that are listed along with this posting.

Radiant heat is a hot-water system driven by a hot water boiler; since you don't have a boiler to start with, this would be an added expense (especially if you want to scrap your existing forced hot air system & go all-hydronic (hot water) heat).

I assume you bought the house in the 1st place because of the beauty of the cathedral ceilings---but they make the rooms hard to heat----ask the heating contractors you invite over for a free estimate for possibly eliminating the cathedral ceilings if you are so inclined, & if this would considerably reduce your heating bills, or would be only a minor advantage.

The other option, of course, would be to do the heating modifications with the existing gas-fired hot air system you already have in place.

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