When considering designing and installing your own underfloor heating (UFH), there is a series of issues which you should bear in mind.
Firstly, it is important to assess your own level of skill. Although parts of the design and installation process can be carried out by a competent DIY-er, there are aspects of the job which require the knowledge and understanding of a highly skilled professional. No underfloor heating system should be completely designed and installed by a novice in the field, and you may decide that the best option is to contract the appropriate professionals for each stage of the job.
Design and Installation Checklist
The design and installation of an underfloor heating (UFH) system can be broken down into various individual tasks.
- Handling the design assumptions and heating requirement calculations;
- Drawing the underfloor heating installation plans;
- Sourcing and fitting the correct insulation;
- Sourcing and fitting the correct underfloor heating pipe;
- Sourcing and properly fitting the manifold;
- Pressure testing the system once the heating pipes have been installed;
- Properly protecting the unfinished project until completion;
- Sourcing and laying the screed floor;
- Sourcing and fitting the controls (thermostat): this must be carried out by a qualified electrician;
- Finishing the floor;
- Treating and flushing the water in the system;
- Connecting the manifold to the underfloor heating (UFH) system;
- Securing warranties for the system’s components;
- Discussing the project at meetings with other contractors (if installing the system as part of a wider build project);
- Knowledgeably supervising works when professionals are required;
- Performance testing the system.
Consider whether your skills are applicable to these tasks, and seek assistance where you are likely to need it or simply unsure of your level of skill.
Going ahead with the job – Designing and Installing Underfloor Heating Yourself
System type: Firstly, decide which form of underfloor heating system is best suited to your project. Often, wet underfloor heating (UFH) is used for complete new build projects, whereas the easier-to-install dry underfloor heating is used for retrofit projects which don’t allow the same freedom of design.
System placement: Underfloor heating systems can be installed anywhere in the house, both on the ground floor and the upper floors. It can also be used with almost any floor covering from stone, marble, and ceramic tiles, to laminate, hardwoods, and vinyl. Carpet can also be used, but make sure the Tog rating is below 1.5.
System installation: Equipped with your expert DIY skills, you will find installing underfloor heating (UFH) relatively simple. For electric systems you will require a flat base of insulated wood board over which you can roll and fix the heating mat before laying down the floor covering. Remember to hire an electrician to connect the system to the mains and approve the installation. For wet systems you will need a flat subfloor to lay the piping over, and a specialised heat-conducting screed will need to be poured over the heating pipes before laying the floor covering, Remember to hire a qualified plumber to make the final connections to the manifold and check over the boiler or heat pump.