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How to Regulate the Temperature of Radiant Heat

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Our next caller is James from Alabama who, more importantly than his home improvement problem, just had a new baby in the house.

    TOM: Congratulations, James.

    JAMES: Well, thank you. We’re pretty tickled. I believe we’ll keep him.  (Tom chuckles)

    LESLIE: So it’s a little boy.

    JAMES: A little boy. We named him Jackson Davis. I had to get a southern name out of our brood and I softened her up with Bobby Lee and she decided Jackson Davis. (Leslie chuckled)

    TOM: So you had a strategy. You figured she’d never go for Bobby Lee; so by the time you popped on the Jackson Davis name, she was there.

    JAMES: That’s right.

    TOM: Alright. Well, you’re a smart man. Let’s see how we can help you with your home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Well, it seems like James is looking for a project rather than changing diapers.

    JAMES: Here’s my dilemma. You know, we’ve seen natural gas prices skyrocket and really, really heat jumped up here in our area; probably around 50 percent this winter in price increase. And I am starting a house from scratch. It’s the great American project. I’m going to build my own house.

    LESLIE: Good for you.

    JAMES: And I’m going to do the whole thing. But what I want to do is, while I have the opportunity – I haven’t poured a slab – I want to put in a radiant heat system in the floor.

    TOM: OK.

    JAMES: And (clears throat) here’s the problem I can’t figure out. How do I regulate the temperature? Because I realize there’s probably going to be a lag time.

    TOM: First of all, the heat in the house has to come up to that temperature setting, whatever it is. So let’s say you set the temp to 74. It’ll start with a cold slab, it’ll bring it up to the point where the air temperature is at; and then when it reaches the setting that the thermostat is set at, then the circulator turns off and it stops pumping the water through the slab and therefore the slab starts to cool. And so the regulation is really the easy part here.

    The tougher part here is just making sure you get the proper design because, typically, hydronic systems have a lot of loops to them and they need to be properly installed. And the workmanship on this is critical because repairing a pipe that’s embedded in concrete is near impossible. So make sure …

    LESLIE: Well Tom, what about the radiant heat that are sort of like panels; the ones that look like electric blankets; the ones that are, you know, individualized panels that you order specifically the amount for the room and they’re not embedded in the concrete?

    TOM: Well, those are typically electric and that would be a lot more expensive to run.


    TOM: So hydronic heat is what we’re talking about; hot water heat. And the systems are – you can’t get any better than that. It’s definitely, clearly, the most comfortable kind of heat because your tootsies are always warm and that’ll be important as that little boy starts to walk around that house; he won’t have cold feet.

    JAMES: Well, I sure appreciate you setting my mind at ease on that then. I was just afraid we’d have a real problem regulating the temperature.

    TOM: No, it’s a terrific system. Just find yourself a real, good master mechanic to put it in for you. OK, James?

    JAMES: Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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