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Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com UNDERFLOORHEATING How do you pick the right UFH? There are a few simple tips to choosing the right underfloor heating (UFH system). Heather Oliver, product development manager at Nu-Heat, talks through the main UFH solutions and the type of projects they are best suited to... With so many different underfloor heating (UFH) systems on the market, it can be a little difficult to choose the right solution for the job. In some cases, one project may even be suitable for several types of system, so how do you know that you have selected the best option? WITH NEW BUILD AND NEW EXTENSIONS The most common solution for ground floors in a new build or newly built extension is screed UFH. It’s affordable and simple to install, fitting neatly into the build programme. It is also highly efficient as the screed conducts the heat quickly and effectively through to the room above, providing an even floor temperature. Screed UFH is relatively quick to install with the UFH tube simply being clipped into the insulation. It may also be fixed into a clip track, which helps to give uniform tube spacing and an even heat distribution across the floor. An UFH CAD design will show how the tube WWW.HPMMAG.COM should be laid out for the best performance. As you’d expect, a contractor will come in to finish the installation by laying the screed, which can be hand-laid or a liquid screed. UFH is also popular in new extensions. If the project is a large, single room extension then screed is suitable and because it is a single zone there may be no need for a system design. If the extension connects to an existing room, such as an open plan kitchen/living space, then it may be worth suggesting a retrofit option, as this can span across both old and new floors, often saving on time and expense. RETROFITTING Choosing the right retrofit UFH system comes down to the key project considerations: • Height build-up: Concern around additional height build-up, which can affect floor-to-ceiling space, is a common consideration with UFH and this is why many retrofit systems are low profile. If height build-up is important, be sure to check the overall height build-up of the system you are 64 APRIL 2016 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY working with before adding on the height of the floor covering. It is also important to check that the system can take tiles without the need for an additional structural deck over the UFH layer, which can add centimetres to the total profile of the system. Systems that use pre-routed gypsum panels or a cementitious low-height levelling compound are structural with minimal deflection, requiring no additional structural deck prior to floor finishes being laid. • Lower levels of insulation: It can be difficult to improve insulation to building regulation standards in some renovation projects. Retrofit UFH can still be the main heat source in older properties, or in spaces with large amounts of glazing, providing that a system with a high heat output is chosen to combat the heat losses. There are retrofit systems that offer as much as 120W/m² – the average is around 80W/m². If heat output is a key concern then a system design is even more essential to ensure that the UFH will effectively heat the property. • Unusual room shapes: In quirky properties with unusual room shapes you may require a more flexible fixing system to aid installation. It’s a good idea to choose a solution that uses plastic castellated panels as these can be cut to size and also allow for a more creative tube layout. SUSPENDED TIMBER AND UPPER FLOORS Joisted and upper floors are also suitable for UFH. In this situation, you would look at a light-weight metal plate solution which holds the tube beneath the floor deck, either fitted between joists or straddling them. It is important to check that the system you opt for is strong enough to hold the tube flush against the floor – some do not do this, leaving an air void that affects the performance and response time of the UFH. Floating floor and retrofit systems are also an option for first floor applications as they can be laid over the floor with minimal height build-up. They also provide a simpler install for properties using steel beams in the floor structure. While this is an option, it can be more expensive than opting for a tailored joisted floor solution, purely because it uses far more materials, but it could also offer higher heat outputs. Whatever the project it is likely that there is an UFH solution that suits. For particularly tricky projects, it’s always worthwhile discussing the options with your supplier – they might be able to tailor a solution or suggest something a little different to make the installation as simple as possible. enquiry number 143 This quick comparision grid can help you find the right solution when choosing an UFH system


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