Radiant floor-heating systems last much longer than furnaces, with some systems lasting up to 35 years, according to Realtor.com. Because they heat from the floor up, many users find they save energy. As they do not use a blower, they are also quieter than a forced-air furnace.
The contractor installs the system under the flooring in thin-set concrete. With hydronic heating systems, there is the option of installing the tubes that carry heated water under the wood floor without removing the existing flooring, according to The Family Handyman. Hydronic systems use a boiler to heat water that they pump through a series of tubes to warm the floor. Electric systems use resistance coils for supplying the gentle heat.
However, there are some drawbacks to radiant floor heat, reports Realtor.com. Installing these systems is often more expensive than installing a new furnace. Unless the homeowner chooses one of the systems that install under the subfloor, the existing flooring must be removed and replaced, adding to the installation expense. The systems are slow in heating a cold home, with some of the hydronic systems requiring several hours to bring the space to temperature. While radiant heat works under any type of flooring, carpet, laminates and wood limit the temperature at which the system operates. Wood floors sometimes dry and split due to a loss of moisture content; however, radiant floor systems are ideal for installation under ceramic tile.