How to Install Hydronic Heating

What You'll Need
Measuring tape
Aluminum-backed MDF board kit
PEX tubing
Floor adhesive
Nail gun
Utility knife
PEX tubing spacers
Hole bit

A hydronic heating system is used to warm the floors of a home by using hot water that circulates under the main floor. The hydronic heating is primarily radiant heat that is sent out and then returned to the boiler. Having a professional install hydronic heating could cost several thousands of dollars, but just using a plumber to finish the job will cost much less. The following steps will show you how to install hydronic heating to the floor of your home so you can save 30 to 45 percent in heating costs each year.

Step 1 - Measuring the Floor

To start, determine the square footage of the livable floor space so you can know how much MDF board to get. MDF board is backed by aluminum foil to help keep the heat in the area it belongs. The MDF board is also already cut into sections and grooved in order to fit the PEX tubing. Measure the length and width of the floor, and multiply the 2 dimensions together to get the square footage.

Step 2 - Placing the MDF Board

The MDF board becomes the new sub-floor as it is the perfect thickness which won't create any issues. Lay the MDF board onto the floor and trim as needed so it fits around tubs, sinks, bay windows and any other object in its way. MDF board for hydronic heating is assembled like a puzzle. The boards should form a snake pattern on the floor with termination points located at one of the ends. Do not trim the board through the PEX tube grooves.

Once the MDF board is trimmed, apply adhesive to the floor in an "S" pattern. Carefully lay the MDF board in place on top of the adhesive. Place a PEX tubing spacer where the boards connect. This helps keep the boards lined up and prevents them moving. Nail them in place for added stability.

Step 3 - PEX Tubing

PEX plastic tubing is used to transport hot water from the boiler through the tubing. Measure the distance from the boiler to the board. Estimate the length of tubing needed to snake through the board. It's better to have more tubing as you can always trim it. Use the drill to make a hole through the floor near the termination point. You may want several sections of PEX tubing for a large area as one length of tubing in a large area will not be effective.

For each section of tubing, you use you will need a new hole in the floor. Place the PEX tubing into the groove in the MDF board using the mallet. Call a plumber to attach the PEX tubing to the boiler. Cover the floor with whatever flooring you want to use.