Problems With Electric Underfloor Heating

Updated February 21, 2017

In electric underfloor heating systems, electric elements are directly under the floor. A thermostat controls them based on the temperature or the time of day, warming the floor to heat the whole room. Homeowners often use underfloor heating systems in bathrooms, kitchens and other tiled areas to warm up the floor in the morning to make it more comfortable. In some cases, these systems are the primary heating for a whole house.


Electric underfloor heating is generally reliable, but when something breaks, it can be difficult and expensive to repair. Replacing a part requires you to remove a section of floor to access the damaged part. You may have to cut or break tiles, remove large floorboards or peel back a considerable section of the carpet to get to the part you need. With most other forms of heating, such as baseboard and forced air, the system is much more accessible. Nonetheless, electric underfloor heating does have an advantage over water underfloor heating, where you have to install the pipes under concrete, screed or brick sub flooring, making them more difficult to install and repair.


Underfloor heating is a costly way to heat your house. When you heat through underfloor heating, not all of the heat goes directly into the room. Some of it will get lost in the subflooring or structure of the house, decreasing the thermal efficiency. Additionally, if you use ceramic tiles or some other material with a high specific heat, it may take a long time to heat up the floor, requiring you to run the heater for a while before it can even begin to warm the room.

Heat Penetration

Electrical underfloor heating systems use the floor as a radiator to spread heat into the air. If there is a lot of stuff lying on the floor, the system will not transfer heat efficiently into the room. Stacks of books, shelves, mattresses, thick rugs and bulky, soft furniture on the floor can slow the system down. If you keep a cluttered house, electric underfloor heating is probably not a good system for you.

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About the Author

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.