3 reasons radiant floor heating isn’t a DIY project

3 reasons radiant floor heating isn't a DIY project3 reasons radiant floor heating isn’t a DIY project

There are some do-it-yourself projects that anyone with at least some experience in home improvement can handle, and then there are the ones that should only be attempted by professionals. Sometimes prospective DIYers should avoid dangerous projects, like for digging a hole for a fire pit in the backyard or when handling corrosive chemicals. Other times, the sheer hassle and difficulty of some home improvement aspirations make them unsuited for amateurs.

Radiant floor heating is one of these projects you shouldn't try without professional help. While you might think that you can throw some pads down and call it a day, there are actually several obstacles that the installation process can throw in an inexperienced DIYer's way. Check out these five reasons why you're better off hiring a contractor to give your home radiant floor heating than trying it yourself.

1. You're already living in your home.
Whether or not your home is completely constructed, furnished and livable makes a big difference for the installation process. Unlike other heating appliances that can be attached to a wall or set up in a basement in a matter of minutes, Home Depot explained that installing radiant floor heating is a bit more intensive.

Because it works by applying heat to the flooring of your home from the underside, the floors in your entire house need to be ripped up before radiant floor heating can make its entrance. Not only will you possibly have to rip up your beautiful hardwood floors, but you'll also need to get under the sub-floor – the actual supporting layer of the level.

If you're moving into a new home with radiant floor heating, the pads are placed above the subfloor so heat is transmitted directly to the floor and the rest of your home. However, retrofitting a home where the floors have already been set in height means that the heating elements will cause your floor to rise by a few inches. This may not seem like much, but once you replace all your furniture and appliances, you might run into some problems. Your doors might not even close because of the new dimensions.

2. You're not a plumber or an electrician.
Radiant floor heating is hidden from sight, but it still needs to be installed as carefully as any other appliance that deals with electricity or your home's plumbing system. If you've never picked up a pair of wire strippers or PVC piping in your life, you should probably steer clear of a self-installation.

This Old House explained that radiant floor heating comes in two popular configurations: electric coil and hot water. Both methods heat your home just as efficiently as the other, but they require separate hookups to your home's utilities. Additionally, any break or leak in self-installed tubing can lead to hot water spilling all over your house.

3. Your house has uniquely shaped rooms.
An experienced contractor will sit down with you to create a comprehensive design and installation plan that minimizes the impact of the project on your every day life. This level of personalization is something you'd expect if you installed radiant floor heating yourself, but HouseNeeds.com explained that reality is just the opposite.

Unless you plan on coiling wire, molding plastic tubing and making everything from scratch into mats or layers to be placed under your floors, the only option available for DIYers who want radiant floor heating is large, rectangular pads that connect together. However, if you have a uniquely shaped room, such as living rooms with bay windows or kitchens with curved eating areas, you'll only be able to apply heat to a small area of the room.

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