If you are installing an underfloor heating system, you will want to be sure that you have all the required permissions and that the system and its components all meet with building regulations. This will safeguard the investment you have made, and maintain the value of your property.
There are several different standards and regulations that relate to the different types of underfloor heating, and it can take a long time to fully digest and understand all of the legislation.
This article is intended to answer some of the most common questions regarding the regulations, and to give a general idea of what is covered and what requirements are asked of you.
Do you need planning permission to install underfloor heating?
Although you currently need to apply for planning permission in the UK to install a central heating system, you do not need this permission to install underfloor heating.
If you are building a new house or extending your home, even with a conservatory, you will require planning permission as normal.
Underfloor heating will be part of the designs your architect submits to the planners, and therefore will be taken into consideration when permission is granted.
Which building regulations cover underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating is covered by part L of the building regulations, which relates to the conservation of fuel and power. The most recent changes relate to the U-value of the floors in new dwellings. U-value is the measure of heat loss from a building, and the lower the U-value the less the heat loss.
These regulations, which are more a matter of insulation than heating, demand that the floors on new homes have a U-value of less than 0.25w/m2K, along with a guidance note that when underfloor heating is installed the value should be no greater than 0.15w/m2K.
British & European standards
Several standards cover the different areas of underfloor heating, and are detailed below:
- Wet systems fall under the British standard BS.EN 1264, Parts 1 to 4. Part 2 of the legislation states that the maximum comfortable temperature underfoot is 29°C; while part 4 specifies the allowance in wet rooms of a maximum floor temperature of 33°C, and 35°C for a one metre perimeter zone. The standard also sets out a limit of 1.5 TOGs for any floor coverings.
- Most types of flooring are comfortable within this temperature range; basic vinyl flooring and lino can withstand a surface temperature of 27°C, while heavy duty plastic sheeting can tolerate a 29°C surface temperature.
- Wood floors are not normally designed to cope with temperatures in excess of 27°C, but carpet and carpet tiles are able to withstand any temperatures within the range.
- Electric cables and cable systems come under British standard BS 1018:1971, which was originally intended for night storage heaters and was last reviewed in 1993.
- The newer European standard EURO-Norm IEC 60364-4 covers mattress and pre-fabricated element heating systems for under-tile or similar underfloor systems.
- Timber floors and timber finishes a covered by the standard BS 8201.
- Floor screeds and finishes come under BS 8204 (2005) parts 1 to 7, and by BS 8203. They are also covered by DIN standard 18560 parts 1 to 7; this is a pan-European standard which has been in place for several years.
Looking to the future of regulations, the organisation EURAY has helped to support the formation of a working group 5 under TC 228 heating systems in buildings to write a new European wide reference for underfloor heating.
The standards will cover the design and sizing of surface heating and cooling systems (floor, wall, and ceiling), where water pipes are embedded in the building structure.
How to check your underfloor heating meets building regulations?
In general terms if a building is compliant with part L of the building regulations, then underfloor heating will be able to heat the property and will satisfy regulations.
Part L relates to the insulation of the building and requires that floors have a U-value of no more than 0.25w/m2K. If you are having the property built by one main contractor, or the installers fitting your underfloor heating are also responsible for the insulation, you can check with them that the insulating boards they use comply with the standards.
What about DIY?
If you have undertaken some or all of the work yourself, but are concerned about the legality of meeting the regulations it is advisable to contact building control within your local government.
Most plumbing and electrical work does need to be signed off by a competent and qualified person, and any work on a gas boiler should be only be undertaken by a corgi registered tradesman.
Once the building control officer has been notified of any building work or alterations they will arrange for a full inspection of the work to take place.
If everything is correctly done and the officer is satisfied that everything is in order, they will issue a certificate of completion, and you will have the security of knowing all of your work is deemed fit and certifiable.
Heating, lighting and cooling are responsible for 60% of the UK’s carbon emissions. The government, along with the rest of the EU, aims to become a carbon neutral society within the next fifty years, and buildings are one of the key areas earmarked for improvement towards achieving this goal.
Revisions to part L of the building regulations are scheduled for 2013, 2015 and 2018. The overall intention is for all new buildings constructed after 2018 to be zero carbon emitters.
The standards and legislation surrounding heating in general are set to tighten only further in the coming years, as society strives towards energy efficiency.
Underfloor heating is one of the ways in which a property’s carbon emissions can be reduced through greater efficiency, and we are already seeing an increase in the amount of systems being fitted into new build properties.
If you choose to install underfloor heating, it is important to ensure that the project satisfies all the regulations and complies with the law.