If you have an older home, there's a good chance you receive your heating from a water heater that's then routed through unsightly baseboards. Luckily, it's possible to reroute that heat to underneath the floor so that you can remove the baseboard heat. The project involves quite a bit of do-it-yourself experience and a lot can go wrong. If you have no experience, leave this up to floor heating professionals.
Experienced do-it-yourself workers will need to do some research on how to complete the process, which should begin with drawing plans for where the pipes need to go. But here are three of the key supplies you will want to purchase for the conversion once the plans are figured out.
Cross-linked polyethylene piping is a cheaper, easier to install alternative to copper piping. PEX is one of the most flexible piping options and the material is resistant to corrosion. These characteristics are why this piping has quickly become a favorite among do-it-yourself fixers.
You will also need some special installation tools in order to hook up the PEX. There are a couple of different ways to attach PEX segments to each other but the cheapest is to use a cinch clamp. The cinch clamp is a small ring that fits over the adjoined ends of the PEX pipes and is then tightened into place with a special tool that kind of looks like a fancy wrench.
Don't try to cut costs by adjoining PEX with another material or trying to use one of your tools to get the cinch clamp secured. It's vital that the pipes are secure so that the sections don't come unhooked under the floor. Becoming unhooked would interrupt the heat and can cause damage to your subfloor and joists.
Aluminum Transfer Plates
You need to use something to hold the PEX up while also securing it to the floor joists. Aluminum transfer plates can help support the PEX and make the heat more efficient, which can allow you to turn down your water heater and save some money. There are a few different kinds of plates but the easiest to install involve simply snapping the PEX pipe down into the groove on the plate.
You can then use your method of choice to attach the plates to your joists. Use a solid attachment method such as drilling not something like electrical tape. You want this structure to stay in place.
Finally, you need to insulate the area underneath the PEX. Why only underneath? Because there should be an air pocket above the PEX but below the flooring to help distribute the heat and prevent it from getting too hot.
If you have a high budget, you can spring for PEX tubing that's sold already insulated. Otherwise, you can invest in some insulation tape—make sure it's approved for heat—and simply wrap your pipes yourself following the package directions.