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Click here to see a descriptive illustration a complete warm floor/hydronic heating system layout and several kits.
Dear Jim: I am adding a new living room and I thought about using warm water floor radiant heating in it. It is comfortable heat and I would like to add it throughout my house. Can this be done and is it efficient? - Ron H.
A: The answers to both your questions is, "Yes". Floor radiant heating is very comfortable and efficient for mild through severe climates. You should be able to install it throughout much of your existing house without disturbing the existing heating and air-conditioning systems.
It may also be one of the least expensive systems to install to heat your new living room. Instead of having to install an entire new larger heating system or a new additional heating source, you may be able to use your existing water heater to heat the room. In mild climates, one can heat the entire house.
Warm floor radiant heat is the most comfortable heating method because the low-intensity heat is constantly radiating up to your body from below. For many people, when their feet are toasty warm, they feel warm all over. The steady heat output eliminates the typical gust of hot dry air each time a forced-air furnace cycles on. There is also less dust and steady humidity.
The water flowing through the floor is not extremely hot. This makes it an ideal fit with solar water heating which is most efficient at moderate temperatures. Using a geothermal heat pump is the next most efficient heating method and also provides the best air-conditioning during summer.
Another significant comfort and efficiency benefit of floor radiant heat is the simplicity of varying temperatures in different rooms. Each room (or zone) can have its own thermostat. The thermostat is connected to a manifold in the utility room which controls how much warm water flows to each room.
There are many methods to install floor radiant heat in new construction or an existing house. For your new room, you may choose to have the thin tubing stapled to the floor. The manufacturers will analyze your room and determine how much is needed. The tubing can be covered with a thin layer of cement (helps soundproof floor) and then finished with tile, hardwood or carpeting.
Other options for adding floor radiant heat in an existing room can also be used for your new addition. Special spacer boards are available which have preformed grooves for the small water tubing. These are laid over the existing floor and the tubing is inserted. They have an aluminum layer on top so the heat is evenly distributed through the carpet or hardwood.
If you have access to beneath the floor in rooms you want to heat, the tubing or special panels can be attached between the floor joists. Remote control room thermostats can be installed that require no wiring to the manifold.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 555 - buyer's guide of 15 warm feet water radiant floor system and kit manufacturers listing tubing material types, diameter sizes available, comfort and design features, descriptions of the most common types of tubing materials and six typical installation methods for existing houses and new construction.
Dear Jim: I have a cultured marble countertop and sink. There appears to be rust stains around the drain area. I tried to clean it, but it seems to actually be down into the marble material. What should I try? - Anne H.
A: Any stains can be very thin, so it is difficult to feel whether they are just on the surface or deeper into the material. Cultured marble is a fairly durable material, so the stains are probably just on the surface.
There are many rust deposit cleaners for sinks and bathtubs and they should remove the stains. Try several applications if necessary. Don't use sandpaper or other harsh abrasives on the cultured marble.