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Stop the block! How Thermal Blocking Can Damage Your Heating System

One of the most luxurious renovations that people have been making over the last few years is the installation of underfloor heating. The principle of the system is exactly the same as that of conventional central heating radiators, to heat water and circulate it through the home, allowing it to dissipate heat throughout. The key difference is that with a conventional radiator, there's a danger that the heat may not spread particularly far and there are isolated warm spots in a room.

Heated floors overcome this by effectively turning the entire floor space into one large radiator, but it does, of course come with different rules on how best to use it. Most people understand that you shouldn't block off a radiator - it won't spread heat efficiently if there's a large sofa blocking the way - but lots don't realise the same is true of underfloor heating.

It's known as 'thermal blocking' and it happens when the heat produced by a radiant floor system gets insulated and trapped into the floor. Thick carpets, rubber backed rugs and even large pieces of furniture that sit directly on the floor can all have the same effect. The heat gets trapped in the floor, meaning the warmth doesn't dissipate into the room and causes the system to overheat, in some cases damaging both the heating carrier and the floor.

The most common things to affect an underfloor heating system tend to be rubber backed or thick rugs, but also large pet beds and beanbags can cause the same problems. Permanent fixtures, like later installed cabinets or shower trays can also cause thermal blocking.

If you have this kind of heating in your home, it's only common sense that it be used and protected properly, as it's expensive to fix problems. Make sure that there's at least a 4” gap (100mm) for air between furniture and the floor and allow the convection currents to carry the warm air into the room. Try and avoid thick rugs and if you have a carpeted room, make sure that it's insulation value is less than 2.5 tog, so it doesn't insulate the floor space. It's also a bad idea to use them as a drying method for wet towels, washing and damp coats!

Heated floors will stand up to the everyday uses and even cope a little way beyond their normal usage parameters, but if thermal blocking is a problem in a section of the floor and is repeatedly allowed to overheat, the system can't be expected to manage this on a long term basis. As long as you keep your under floor heating clear and allow it to work as it should do, it will provide its full lifetime of widespread warmth to your home.

Date: 03/04/2015 | Author: Roger Hedges