Maintaining your radiant heated wood floor

Beautiful wood floors take a little bit of love and care, but they are well worth it. When it comes to a wood floor with a ThermoSoft radiant heating system underneath it, maintaining your floor is essentially the same as for one without. Below are a few simple tips for how to preserve the beauty of your wood floors. Keep these pointers in mind while you sit back and enjoy all the warmth and other benefits of radiant heating.

humidity effects

The effects of humidity and heat

Many people think that heat causes wood to expand or contract, but studies have shown that it is actually moisture content that causes all of the commonly experienced problems. As an organic material, wood has the properties of attracting and storing water molecules at room temperature. Because of these tendencies, wood will expand or contract in an attempt to match the relative humidity of the room that it is in.

When installing a wood floor on top of a radiant heating system such as ThermoFloor® or WarmStep®, it is important to ensure that the average humidity of the room is stable. This can be achieved by operating the radiant heat system long enough to ensure that any moisture from the cement underfloor, wall paint or sheetrock is fully dispersed. Patience and thoroughness in this step will help prevent cupping in hardwood floorboards. Once the room humidity levels are stabilized, the floor can be installed on top of the radiant system.

In certain rooms, the use of a dehumidifier may be required to keep the ambient moisture content below the floor's manufacturer recommendations. Seasonal fluctuations in humidity are to be expected in most climates. Maintaining a room humidity level that is roughly halfway between the maximum and minimum expected will keep your wood floors at optimal quality.

Radiant heating systems work best when they are not restricted by heavy rugs, bean bags or dog beds. Heat is conducted efficiently through wood floors but is insulated by these items. In certain situations, the placement of these coverings can cause overheating and damage the floorboards. Engineered wood floors are particularly sensitive to rapid reductions in humidity and may exhibit dry cupping, which is caused by lack of rather than excessive moisture.

Maintenance of your radiant heated floor

Cleaning your wood floors with a ThermoSoft system installed beneath is no different than cleaning an unheated floor. The use of cleaners will vary depending on what type of wood floor is installed - hardwood or engineered. While cleaning a hardwood floor can be accomplished with water and vinegar, using the same solution on an engineered floor can actually delaminate layers that make up your floorboards. For engineered wood floors, clean them with solutions specifically designed for that purpose. If you cannot find any, a vacuum cleaner and soft broom will suffice. Following these courses of action will also prevent you from accidentally voiding the floor manufacturer's warranty or damaging your ThermoSoft system beneath.

Scuffs and scratches may develop on the floor's finish if care is not taken while moving objects around. Additionally, you should try to avoid dropping heavy objects onto your radiant heated wood floors. While remarkably resilient, the ThermoSoft heating elements can be damaged by extreme or repeated impacts, especially in the same location. Keep this in mind when moving furniture or other large objects around your home.

ThermoSoft systems are designed with moisture-wicking and mildew resistant properties built into their underlayment. All the same, when installing your ThermoSoft system, make sure that any gaps along the wall between the floor have been sealed thoroughly. Also, remember that your floor is at risk if you use hot water or a steamer to clean it. Hot liquids can severely damage the floor and possibly the radiant heating system underneath.

Operation and reliability

Installation of a ThermoSoft radiant heated floor system is fast, easy and straightforward. Simply unroll the heating elements onto the underfloor and after allowing the humidity levels to stabilize, lay the wood floor down on top. Electrical power is provided via a single connector cable, making hookup a straightforward task. With no moving parts and rugged construction, ThermoSoft systems are the most reliable way to keep your home warm.

Your ThermoSoft system requires no maintenance, so you don't have to worry about ripping up your floors every few years to make repairs. Radiant floor heating also lasts indefinitely, something that can't be claimed by forced air heaters, boilers and fans. If there is a defect with the system, ThermoSoft offers a minimum 10-year warranty on all of our floor heating products and a lifetime warranty on select products.

Maintaining a constant and comfortable temperature is simplified by the inclusion of a thermostat with your WarmStep® and ThermoFloor® systems. The thermostat keeps the floor from exceeding safe and comfortable levels for both human contact and the wood itself. This avoids any issues with overheating your wood floors and violating the manufacturer's recommendations for maximum temperature.

ThermoSoft thermostat systems include a floor sensor to ensure that both floor and air temperatures are synchronized for maximum efficiency and comfort. Proper programming of the unit is essential to keeping your radiant heated floors from "competing" with any central heating systems that may be co-installed in your home.

Programming of the thermostat also keeps the energy usage of your radiant heated floor system extremely low. In many cases, the total amount of electricity consumed is 40 percent lower than a comparable forced air system. ThermoSoft thermostats allow six days of programming, giving you the ability to reduce energy usage even further by only activating when you need it to.

Don't let unfounded concerns about care and maintenance prevent you from considering a ThermoSoft radiant floor heat system to go under your wood floors. As you can see, caring for a heated floor is just as easy as for an unheated floor.

For more information about ordering a radiant heated floor system for your own home, please contact the professionals at ThermoSoft by calling 800-308-8057 or visiting our website at www.ThermoSoft.com.

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