PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Case Study

Increased Customer Satisfaction Adds Sizzle to a Custom Builder's Business


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Various forms of radiant floor heating have been in use since the ancient Romans channeled hot air beneath the floors of their homes. Today's systems usually work by pumping hot water through PEX pipes encased in a concrete slab or installed beneath the finished floor. The heated water flowing through the tubes heats the flooring material, which radiates the heat evenly throughout the room.

Wet radiant heating is installed by laying down a network of piping or tubing, usually PEX, and then pouring the concrete slab. Dry radiant heating is installed beneath a finished floor without pouring material over the tubing. In this case, tubing is often sandwiched between layers of plywood, or under the subfloor. Dry heating is more common in retrofits and when the floors in new homes are not poured concrete.

Read PATH Field Evaluations of dry radiant floor heating:


This project included the following PATH-profiled technologies:

[IMAGE: This radiant heating system uses PEX piping to transport water for heating.] "He had already installed several of these systems so he was happy to walk me through the process. The installation is actually the easiest part."

"In large rooms, the biggest challenge is learning how to incorporate and coordinate multiple systems with different heating sources and circulators, but even that can be overcome through hands-on experience, just like any other trade. First-time users should start with smaller projects. Don't attempt to install the systems on multiple levels of the house. Use it on something like a basement so you can learn how it works and what the challenges are."

"Beyond that, don't be afraid to call in an experienced HVAC professional to help you with the project. Some manufacturers of the systems even offer technical support to new users. Now I've worked out the kinks in the system and it's second nature to me. I have used radiant floor heating in four of my projects. You build a house one brick at a time. The same is true with learning how to install a heated floor system."


"My marketing is mainly word-of-mouth," says Meinhart. "I cultivate new customers through the recommendations of former ones. Radiant floor heating adds value to my homes by making them more comfortable, which is a huge draw for potential customers. It also helps in my sales meetings with potential clients because it adds to the image of quality that I try to bring to the table."

"Radiant systems aren't appropriate if the floor is covered with a thick carpet, or in climates that only require heating systems a couple of months of the year. But for projects where I feel it would be appropriate, no customer has ever turned it down."

"I try to be careful about how I introduce technologies to customers. The technology has to serve a purpose. My customers aren't always concerned about the cost of installing the systems but they are concerned about maintenance and comfort. With radiant floor heating systems, maintenance is almost zero and comfort is guaranteed." [IMAGE: The completed project, whose heating is more even and efficient with a radiant system.]

"Clients may have to get accustomed to the fact that it takes a little while for the systems to heat up and that the air around them feels a little different than it does with a traditional HVAC system. But once they do, they'll come to appreciate the improved indoor air quality and the overall feeling of comfort. My clients love it."

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Content updated on 9/25/2006

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