Underfloor heating has a long and interesting past, originating in prehistoric times and continuing still today. Archeological digs in Asia have found evidence of the use of rudimentary forms of this system in early periods of human history. The system is sound, and thus its use continues even in the modern day, albeit with great refinements and advancements in practice.
Modern underfloor heating systems are either “electric systems,” utilizing electrical resistance, or “hydronic systems,” which rely on heated water or fluid passed through pipes under the floor. Electric systems use flexible heating elements to generate heat. These elements include cables, pre-configured cable mats, bronze meshing, and carbon fiber. Hydronic systems use water or water mixed with another fluid, which is heated in a boiler and then circulated underneath the flooring. The boilers are heated electrically or with propane or natural gas. Hydronic systems are rather complex in their design and function, and require skilled tradesmen for installation and maintenance. Electric systems, on the other hand, are relatively simple and easily maintained.
If you are in need of a reliable heating engineer or serviceman to install underfloor heating in your home or business, or to perform repairs on your underfloor heating system, then you will want to take special care in searching for and selecting the engineer. In truth, to refer to a heating engineer as a serviceman is a bit of a misnomer. Heating engineers can, in fact, design and install central heating systems, as well as maintain and repair them. A heating engineer will be educated and trained in his field. The education, in fact, may be at a fairly high level, including scientific and mathematical disciplines. Today, however, many qualified heating engineers do function essentially as servicemen. Perhaps this is an effect of current global economic conditions, but, in any event, these engineers might be regarded in a similar light.
Regardless of the job that the engineer is to perform, whether it is initial design and installation of a new system, or just maintenance and repair of an existing one, the process of selecting the engineer can follow the same steps. You will want to find the very best qualified engineer available, and to avoid the less skilled or qualified. Toward that end, start your process simply by asking around. Ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations. What engineers have they used and what has their experience been with them? It may also be worth talking with local real estate agents for their recommendations. Realtors may well know from experience or simply from talking with clients who best to recommend. One other valuable resource is suppliers of products used by heating engineers. Talk to those suppliers and get their recommendations.
Once you have a list of prospective engineers, you may wish to interview them. If the project is to be involved, then you will probably be spending a lot of time and having a lot of contact with the engineer, and a good fit must be found between the two of you. If you cannot communicate with the engineer, or in some other way take some personal objection to them, then the relationship may not be successful, and the job may also not be successful. Ask for a list of clients. The engineer’s past clients will be perhaps the most valuable reference of all in selecting an engineer.
Once you have narrowed your choice to just one or a couple of prospective engineers, you will want to proceed to the bidding stage. What will the job cost, what will it include, and what will it not include? If you get two or three competitive bids, you should be able to make your choice based on a final comparison of the bids.