Underfloor Heating in Ireland - Resistance from Builders and Plumbers

Updated 29 November 2018

Following on from my article on radiators versus underfloor heating you are hopefully now convinced that underfloor heating is the way to go. However getting underfloor heating installed may not be as easy as you think. You may meet a lot of resistance from your builder and plumber. There are builders and plumbers out there who will tell you that underfloor heating is a bad idea. In order of getting out of laying underfloor heating they will tell you stuff like - 'it doesn't suit our climate', 'it will cost a fortune to run' and 'it will take forever to heat up the house'. I'm going to examine each of these myths later but first let's look at the real reasons why builders and plumbers don't want to install UFH.

Builders don't like underfloor heating because they have to bring in another specialist contractor to lay a liquid screed floor. Bringing in another contractor complicates the job for him and reduces his earnings from the job. It is quicker and easier for them to lay a standard sand and concrete screed themselves rather than having to coordinate with a specialist liquid screed floor layer. He can also get a better profit from laying the floor himself. The builder has to find another job for him and his workers to do while the outside contractor comes in to lay a liquid screed. You have to realise that the builder isn't just looking out for your interests but also has his own priorities to address.

Plumbers are afraid to install underfloor heating because they know underfloor won't work well if the house isn't properly insulated or if the pipes are laid too deep into the concrete. The level of insulation in the house and the depth the pipes are laid at are two things the plumber has no control over. If these aren't done properly the house will cost a fortune to heat and it will take a long time to heat up. To avoid customers coming back to him with these complaints the plumber will want to install a radiator system. With a radiator system attached to a fossil fuel boiler they know it doesn't matter how badly insulated a house is the radiators will be able to generate enough heat. Your plumber is likely to know that underfloor is a better system but will nevertheless recommend radiators because it is less risky for them.

The myths - 'it doesn't suit our climate', 'it will cost a fortune to run' and 'it will take forever to heat up the house'. These all date to a time before liquid screed floors and well insulated homes:

You should always take what your builder and plumber says to you with a pinch of salt. Their main interest is to get the job done and move on to the next. They are conservative by nature and will want to stick with what they know. You've got to find yourself a builder and plumber who are supportive of the idea. If you live in an area where underfloor heating is not common then you may need to go outside your local area to find builders/plumbers who have experience in installing underfloor.