This is my first post here.
I'm moving into a victorian house in a few weeks which has no central
heating. And in part to keep costs manageable, but also just because I
enjoy DIY, I'd like to see if I could install my own radiators and
pipework, and get a GSR heating eng to take care of the boiler.
I've spent hours upon hours reading forum posts, watching Youtube
videos, and reading the part L regs to try to determine the best set up
and still have a few questions.
I'd be looking to install a 22mm/15mm twin pipe system with an upstairs
and downstairs branches, but I'd like to hide the pipes, and there's a
concrete floor downstairs.
Despite reading dozens of posts on the very subject and looking at the
building regs, there appears to be no real consensus on how to do this.
Would it be best to keep pipework for both branches under the first
level floor boards and supply the downstairs radiators from above? The
"problem" I see is that due to door ways I'd need to have at least two
drops, so I think a drain off value would be required on one radiator
per drop. It also means two sets of 22mm piping (one for each branch)
would be routed through the floorboards. To be honest, given this
configuration, it seems a single branch/zone system would be easier.
Another option is to chase directly into the concreate and make a track
perhaps 2-3 inches from the wall supplying each radiator. As there'll
be an engineered wood floor over the top, this might be a cleaner idea.
Another option would be to horizontally chase into the wall at the
skirting board. This would make it easy to service the pipes in the
future, as I'd just have to remove the skirting. The only issue here is
crossing doorways, so I'd have to do some chasing into the concrete
Is one of these options more correct than the others? Or should it be
tackled in a completely different way?
There's no easy answer when the ground floor is solid. If you want two
zones, and if they're both going to be distributed between the floors,
that's a lot of pipes to get in!
Have you considered having a single distribution circuit and then
effectively making each radiator into an individual zone by means of a
remotely controlled radiator valve?
Can you afford to raise the level of the ground floor by a few inches?
If you can, you could install wet UFH downstairs - giving good comfort
levels without using up any wall-space with radiators - and all the
pipes would be under the floor.
I suggested that too - but you'd need more than a couple of inches in
order to get some insulation under the pipes. I did this when I
converted a garage into a kitchen, which gave about 6 inches to play
with, and even that was a struggle.
Some great answers here, and it has cleared up which options are
feasible given the solid floor. I'm liking the idea of a single zone
with a remote controlled radiator valve. Can you recommend any remote
controlled radiator systems? I want to look at pricing and what is
involved in installing them. No doubt it is an electricians job.
I really like the idea of ground floor ufh. I'd need to take
measurements and figure out if that much space could be sacrificed.
Lots of "ifs" as I haven't actually moved in and investigated, but I've
also considered insulating the exterior walls and installing an electric
ufh, with a good insulating underlay, which seems quite do-able for a
I'd also looked at thermaskirt, but I've heard people have issues with
clicking and clanking when it warms/cools, and the corner pieces are
plasticky. So I've decided against it.
Vertical runs of pipework are always a problem (ie how to hide them).
They are put in unobtrusive places and you can buy plastic trunking to
cover the pipes.
Normal practice on a two storey building is to run the main pipes
under the upperfloor floor with drops to below and (short) risers to
the upperfloor radiators.
It has to be said that radiator systems these days are obsolescent.
Your system will run far more efficiently as an underfloor system,ie
pipes embedded in the concrete floor.
This is because the water temperature is much lower, more heat is
abstracted from the boiler.
Also there are no visible radiators.
The disadvantage is that the system takes longer to heat up and cool
off. Also it's more mess and inconvenience.
This would however involve taking up/replacing the concrete floor as
insulation is installed beneath.
In a Victorian house this might be no bad thing, the floor may be very
damp and energy losing.
There are special systems for timber floors too.
Oddly enough I can see both sides of this.
The key is less occupancy and more the actual overall house design.
IF its insulated to the hilt AND has a reasonably large thermal mass -
and that does make for a more comfortable and even heat and less
overheating in summer - then the benefits of time cycling the boiler are
OK it is accepted that a modern timber frame house with suspended floor
has little or no thermal mass, even if it meets insulation standards.
I am less sure about harry's assertion that lower working fluid
temperatures make for a more efficient boiler. That is a
misunderstanding really. What counts is the temperature of the exhaust
gases, not the working fluid. In a sense the exhaust represents a total
loss from the house - any other boiler losses are internal to the
building and contribute to its heating. apart from pipe losses in the
ventilated attic etc.
Underfloor heating of wooden floors is far less slow to warm up as well,
though it does place a few restrictions on the flooring type.
I think where I stand is this: The first step in designing and efficient
house from a heating perspective is too get all the losses down by
The involves sealing it from draughts as well, which them implies a
ventilation/condensation problem. That is conventionally solved by
having explicit ventilation added, which then becomes the major heat
loss in itself.
Heat recovery ventilation is not much used, but is the next step in that
Once all this is done, heating requirements come down to less than the
100W per square meter that underfloor heating can reasonably provide.
At this point there is nothing special about UFH. Its simply a very
large warm water radiator laid flat under the floor. There are even
possibilities to use in-wall heating if for any reason the floor is
The thermal mass issue is somewhat separate. Undoubtedly a high thermal
mass is infinitely nicer in very hot weather as it tends to follow the
mean between day and night temperatures. Here we managed to stay below
25C when daytime outside temperatures were around 39C!!
25C is hot, but for most Brits, bearable. 39C is hard for most..
However in winter we pay the penalty - if those rooms with large amounts
of masonry are kept warm it has do be done n a totally untimed basis and
it chews fuel. Its very hard to leave the (mostly) unused dining room
cold, and then expect it to be warm for visitors unless at least 24
hours advance warning is to be obtained!
So management and control systems are necessarily more complex with a
big time lag.
BUT, this is a separate issue from UFH per se.
My Scandinavian based sister simply runs the heating 24x7 all year
anyway. Its controlled to keep the massively insulated triple glazed
home at a constant temperature, and if you had experienced a
Scandinavian winter, you would understand why. No one wants to come home
to an untreated house and shiver while it warms up. I remember when her
daughter was amazed when I walked in without a coat or jacket 'but its
winter, its cold outside ' 'yes, but I only have to walk 20 yards to the
car, and that's warm'
In Sweden you do not leave the house in winter without insulated
clothing. It might otherwise be the last thing you do. Neither do you
run your heating on a timeswitch...
(in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to
There is an alternative skirting heating system you might consider.
These are fitted round the entire perimeter of the building and all
the pipework is hidden. They are more effective than radiators but
can be less efficient.
However they entail much less mess and quicker to install, virtually
all the pipework is hidden.
There is one (of many) here.
I looked at them when I put my central heating in.
They couldn't deliver enough output in any reasonable sized room.
Even in the hallway (highest ratio of skirting length to floor area),
output would not have been enough. Might work in a very well insulated
modern build, but not a Victorian house.
There was another product called (IIRC) Finway (doesn't seem to exist
anymore), which was a much wider skirting with a finned pipe running
through it which generated convection over the fins. That was nearer
the mark, but 3" thick skirting wasn't acceptable.
My father used a much earlier version of this which is a Canon 8" high
cast iron skirting radiator the whole 20' length of their living room
(it came in sections you bolt together). It has a flat front face and
a hidden finned rear with a water channel running through the casting.
Even that generates less output than the whole room requires.
Conventional radiators are extremely size efficient for their output,
and when you move to other types of heat emitter, you tend to need
something which is very much bigger to match the heat output.
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
+1. victorian house with poor insulation may need 300-500W/sq meter.
Modern insulated house 50-100W.
sigh, I know. I looked at these things too.
IF you have a solid brick house consider dry lining with celotex in
stud, and running UFH pipe over that and behind the plasterboard. If it
an internal wall forget the celotex.
Coupled to a normal UFH temp reducing/separate pump system that can
actually result in more internal space.
(in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to
On 03/03/2013 13:38, The Natural Philosopher wrote:
It also depends on how fussy you are... I don't find a pair of 15mm
pipes dropping down the corner of a room that offensive in the grand
scheme of things...
In the past I have also chased 15mm speedfit pipe into a wall for a
similar drop for a location where the pipe drop would have stood out
like a sore thumb.
I do. No pipes or cables showing anywhere in this house - or any which are
simply boxed in. Some rather longer runs than otherwise to achieve this,
though. Luckily all my internal walls are stud types - and I have a cellar
- which does make it easier. I've even run the tails to the rads down
behind the skirting boards.
*WHY IS THERE AN EXPIRATION DATE ON SOUR CREAM?
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
On Sun, 03 Mar 2013 13:38:49 +0000, The Natural Philosopher wrote:
There's an important factor. Up the insulation on at least the outside
walls. 50 mm of celotex type insulation as a minimum. Ideally have the
pipe work on the warm side of the insulation if not lag it. The warmth in
the void will help with damp control anyway.
Drops for each downstairs rad with a combination radiator valve / drain
cock at one end.
UFH downstairs with good wall insulation is an alternative but would need
the existing floor removing for a good 12" or so to get the insulation
in, the pipe work, covering screed and final finish.
I wonder whether it's really concrete. The OP hasn't bought it yet, and
might have mistaken something else for concrete. It could, for example,
be flagstones laid on soil - in which case removing them, excavating and
creating a proper floor - with insulation - may not be too difficult.
I actually get the keys next Tue (12th) and the first job is to rip up
the old carpets, so I'll investigate. The estate agent did say that the
solid floor was a later addition. It would be great if there was room
for an underfloor UFH system.
I'm in a Victorian house. The kitchen floor is large red quarry tiles
laid on ?? the middle room is suspended timber on sleeper walls and the
end room is herringbone pitch pine woodblock on ??.
As you say, there has been ample time for *makeovers*. If suitable
*tuits* arrive I shall dig it all up in the spring and find out!
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