25 Jan Do It Yourself Project – In-Wall Hydronic Radiant Heating
Do It Yourself Project – In-Wall Hydronic Radiant Heating In-wall Hydronic heating With RadiantLink
We own a small bungalow of 900 square feet which was built in 1952. The basement was dated and cold. We took the opportunity to warm up the space with a hydronic radiant heating system using RadiantLink and the furnace. Instead of installing the pex piping in the concrete floor, we opted for a system that embedded the radiant heating pex piping in the walls. This project design was based on sound experience.
Radiant in-floor heating and basement heat loss.
There has been a great deal of discussion about heat loss in the home. A recent article by Mike Holmes, “Get to the Bottom of Heat loss in your Home”, talks about how the basement can be a major source of heat loss in your home. He outlines the three choices that a home owner has to insulate the basement. These being rigid foam, spray foam or batt insulation.
Insulation is a very important step to improving the heat loss in the basement. We at RadiantLink believe that marrying the infloor heating system with the furnace will create a basement that is comfortable. This comfort created by RadiantLink also reduces the average home owner’s power bill by as much as $500 a year. See our blog on the environmental savings 5 Ways In-floor heating can save the Planet
The home building industry has spent time and energy improving the design of windows, door and insulation to address the heat loss of the basement. Yet with all these improvements, in Saskatchewan we still have new homes with uncomfortable basements. Here is the data we recently collected in two similar new Regina homes with unfinished basements:
- A show home on a -20°C day with forced air heating and RadiantLink – the basement floor temperature next to the wall measured 20°C
- A second home on a -20°C day with just forced air heating measured 12°C
Using the hydronic RadiantLink system combined with the furnace, we were able to create a warm basement even before the walls were insulated.
In Wall Hydronic Heating Vs In Floor Hydronic Heating
Our bungalow was built in 1952. The basement has ductwork throughout and a brand new high efficiency furnace installed in 2013. This created a challenge for us we wanted radiant basement heating but the basement floor didn’t warrant replacement and we didn’t have the height to add pex piping imbedded in the topping. Had we chosen to go with the radiant floor approach, we would have had three choices. These being to:
- Remove the old concrete floor and install the system into a new floor
- Lay the pex piping on the existing floor and pour a gypcrete topping
- Install the pex piping in the product that sits on the concrete floor such as Warmboard or Thoth’s Radiant panel system.
All of these options are good but for our project it came down to cost and the need to maximize head room. We chose to install the pex piping into the lower three feet of the basement wall. This decision did come with some science behind it.
In 2012, we at MacPherson Engineering were recognized by ASHRAE for several of our projects where we installed hydronic radiant wall heating systems. http://ec2-54-85-155-220.compute-1.amazonaws.com/resources–publications/periodicals/ashrae-journal/features/firm-walks-the-talk
The management and employees of MacPherson Engineering take pride in being aware of new and leading edge technologies, primarily through our active involvement with ASHRAE, a global society that focuses on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability with in our HVAC industry. We have successfully lead Canada in the implementation of suitable new technologies including the use of radiant floor and wall heating & cooling systems in our building projects. ASHRAE awards are for standout projects that add innovation to good design.
The Advantage of InWall Hydronic Heating Vs Insulation for a Basement Renovation
Renovation projects always come with lots of decisions and compromises that need to be made. Most compromises are a result of cost. Our 900 square foot bungalow had a cold basement and had batt insulation between the studs. We knew that we needed to consider the installed cost of hydronic radiant heating to ensure that we would see a return on our investment. Check our blog on the cost to install RadiantLink How much does in-floor warming or radiant heating cost in Sk
Considering the three options for hydronic radiant heating, we decided to build the system in the wall instead of the floor. There is not a right or wrong answer; it is what is best for you project at the time.
The attached article by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation titled Insulating your House/ CMHC takes about the signs of a home with poor insulation https://www.cmhcschl.gc.ca/en/co/grho/grho_010.cfm It was the cold walls and the cold floor that convinced us that to make that 900 square feet in the basement useable.
Before starting our project, the furnace is delivering warm air at 26°C. Yet the basement walls, even though insulated, were reading 18°C and the floor was at 17°C. Taking a small amount of warmth from the furnace for the hydronic in-wall radiant system increased the wall and floor temperature closer to 20°C. And that is the point where comfort and living begin. And that comfort adds value to our property.
We also took this opportunity to wrap the soaking tub we installed in the basement internally with three loops of oxygen barrier pex piping. This wrapping of the tub will create a warm tub before the water is added – reducing the amount of hot water needed. The hot water heater in the home produces 20% of the home’s carbon footprint. Reducing the amount of hot water needed for a home just softened our foot print and all it took was $25 worth of pex piping in the right place at the right time to make this shift. For more information about bathrooms check our our blog Dreaming of a new bathroom? Create ‘Bare Foot’ living in your bathroom renovation with Heated Floors
Once the hard decisions were made about how to install the radiantlink system, the next step is just to build it and wrap this basement in warmth.
Wrapping your basement in warmth with Hydronic Heating
Step One – Radiant Heating in the Walls Amvic’s Insulation
To begin our project, the first thing we needed to install was the pex piping on the lower three feet of the basement perimeter walls.
We reached out to our home building stores in Regina to see what products would help us with this insulation. We were very excited to find a product at our local Sherwood CO-OP Home Store. The rigid insulation product with pex piping channels is made by an Ontario company called Amvic. And the beauty of this product is it is designed to accommodate the pex piping and provide an R15 insulation value.
We were also happy to learn that the product we were looking for was made in Canada. So often were are using building products from other countries that are not suitable for our environment.
Amivc’s primary manufacturing facility and head office is located in Toronto, Canada. Amvic’s factories are equipped with top of the line machinery, which ensures that the highest quality of energy efficient products are manufactured consistently. Amvic’s exceptional network of facilities enables them to produce incomparable products that can be delivered promptly.
The Amvic Insulated Panel for Radiant Heating has been specifically designed to provide the most cost effective installation and performance characteristic for hydronic heating systems.
What we liked most about this product is the low cost and the ease of installing the pex piping. To install the Amvic panels please see their web site at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV16HD9d8tM
This product cost us $12.99 per sheet. The sheets come in 2 feet X 4 feet size. Our wall was three feet high so removed one foot from each panel. Every fourth panel was made up of three one foot pieces. We required a total of 25 sheets for the total cost of $324.75 plus tax.
To install the sheets of insulation in our 900 square foot basement it took one person less than six hours. The Amvic insulation is 3.5 inches thick and provides an R value of R15. This means that our wall system will have a total insulation value of R25 (batt insulation of R10 and Amvic insulation of R15).
We did lose some space in the basement due to the insulation thickness but we also gained a detail of a wall shelf. And in a basement designed for fun – a spot to set your beer down is a nice touch.
Step Two – Installing the Pex piping for our Hydronic In-wall heating system
The first mistake we made is we purchased the wrong pex piping. This is important when building a radiant heating system into you home. You want to make sure the pex piping you purchase is for the closed loop system and includes the oxygen diffusion barrier. Oxygen and iron will cause corrosion with in you system. The pex pipe with an oxygen diffusion barrier prevents oxygen from being absorbed into the system and causing iron components, like pump casing to corrode.
Below is a link to the pex piping at Lower. It will cost just under a $1 per foot to install. We needed 500 feet for our installation. https://www.lower.ca/pex-pipe/apollo-12-in-x-25-ft-160psi-oxygen-barrierpex-pipe_g1195298.html
The pex piping requires a design for the layout. With the purchase of a RadiantLink unit we will also help you with the pex piping layout if required. There is a great deal written on the various websites for pex lay out design. We found this link to be quite helpful: http://www.pexuniverse.com/radiantheating-tubing-design-and-layout
Step 3 – Manifolds for you RadiantHeating System
Manifolds are a work of art in themselves. We purchased our manifolds manufactured by Roth from HVAC Sales here in Regina. Our contractors can assist you in identifying the right manifold for you. We recommend that you work with one of our contractors to install the RadiantLink system. Our contractors can help you connect the in-wall radiant system with RadiantLink. Hiring qualified contractors for this work is money well spent.
Step 4 Filling you In-Floor heating system with Glycol and Installing RadiantLink
RadiantLink is a closed loop system and is filled with a 25%inhibitied propylene glycol/water solution. This is the last step before your system is ready to go. Once again we recommend that you work with our contractors to ensure that all air is bled from the system and the right kind of amount of glycol is added and to install your RadiantLink Unit.
Our cost to install this system was just under $4100 plus tax. This included the following:
- 25 Amvic panels
- 500 feet of oxygen diffusion barrier pex piping
- supply and return manifolds with loop flow indicators, balancing and isolation values
- RadiantLink furnace coil and Control panel, interconnection piping, installation and glycol charging
- One thermostat & furnace AC interlock, wired and installed
This system will increase the value of our home as a result of our energy efficient HVAC system. This HVAC system marries the furnace with the floor to make an older home warm and comfortable at a reasonable price. We have also increased the usable real estate from 900 square feet with a cold basement to 1800 feet that is comfortable on two floors. The In-wall hydronic system will also eliminate the need for electric baseboards heaters and a larger hot water heater. And that just made our earth a better place.
Do you have any comments on our in-wall hydronic heating system using the high-efficiency furnace as the heat source? We are very interested to hear your comments and your thoughts about the price.
Contact me a 306.584.0578 or by email at [email protected]