What is a Hydronic Heating System?

Winter is right around the corner! It’s time to start thinking about heating to keep the house nice and warm. The best way to achieve this is by investing in an effective heating system. 

Hydronic heating is one popular way to achieve evenly distributed heating in your home. This way, even when the outdoor temperatures are unbearable, you can relax and know your home will still be warm and comfortable. 

But what is a hydronic heating system, and how does it work? Also, what is required to install one in your home? Let’s find out. 

Definition of a Hydronic Heating System

Hydronic or radiant heating is one of the options you can choose to heat your house. This type of heating system relies on liquids like water, glycol, or a mixture of both. 

The system comprises two main components that work together to heat your house. It has a main heating source called the hydronic heating boiler, which warms the air by carrying the hot liquid throughout the house through a network of pipes. 

You have several installation options when using a hydronic water system to heat your home. 

These include: 

  • Radiant floor systems
  • Hydronic baseboard heaters
  • Radiant wall heating systems
  • Radiators
  • Hydronic towel warmers

The good thing about these systems is that they are ideal for both residential and large commercial buildings. In large buildings, however, they are typically used alongside boilers. 

How Does a Hydronic Heating System Work?

Now that we’ve established the basics of “what is a hydronic heating system?” we should explain how it works. Hydronic heating is an effective way to heat a house during the winter. As such, folks living in regions that experience long winters are open to the concept.

In a quick recall to science class, there are three main ways heat transfer occurs: radiation, convection and conduction. Hydronic heating systems use a combination of radiation and conduction. 

How? Well, this requires a boiler system, a properly installed pipe network, and water which is considered the best liquid medium for hydronic heating and is often used in many residential properties. The boiler system first warms the water through conduction.

HVAC professionals will have set up a network of pipes beneath the floor or inside the walls of your house. These pipes then carry the heated water throughout the house, and as the warm water passes through the pipes, it heats your home through radiation. 

Basic Components of a Hydronic Heating System

There are different components you need for a hydronic heating system. 

These include:

  • A Hydronic Heating Boiler: The hydronic heating boiler system is responsible for heating the liquid. 
  • A Network of Pipes: Another key component of a hydronic heating system is a network of pipes. The most commonly used types of pipes are made of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). 
  • A Liquid Medium: Water is one of the most used ways to distribute heat. However, other antifreeze liquids are also great options. 
  • A Heat Exchanger: Every hydronic system needs a heat exchanger that transfers heat from the pipes to your home. 
  • A Thermostat: The system will require a thermostat to control temperature settings. If you want zone control, an HVAC expert can set up two or more thermostats. 

What are the Benefits of a Hydronic Heating System?

Simply answering the question, “what is a hydronic heating system?” may not be enough to convince you. What are the benefits of installing this system? 

Besides efficiency and reliability, a hydronic heating boilers system has the following benefits; 

No Noise Pollution

Noise is a key reason why many people want to steer clear of forced air systems. Air units can be loud as they dispense hot air from your home. The same problem occurs when a furnace works hard to heat your space. 

You won’t need to worry about noise when you install a hydronic boiler system. Say goodbye to loud HVAC noise that disrupts the peace and quiet of your home space. 

Better Humidity Levels

It’s common to experience dry air in your home, especially during the winter months. This results from a forced air system drawing out most of the moisture from the air. Uneven humidity levels can lead to dry skin, watery eyes, and running noses, among other health issues.

This won’t be the case when you install hydronic heating in your home. The system strives to improve the overall comfort of your environment by maintaining consistent humidity levels. 

Forget Duct Cleaning Problems

Hydronic heating systems mostly rely on a network of pipes beneath the floor or behind the walls. This means heat transfer happens through radiation and not through a series of vents across the house. Since you won’t need vents, you won’t need ductwork. This helps you to save money on duct cleaning expenses. 

Comfy and Warm Floors

As the months get colder, the floor doesn’t always feel nice when walking barefoot. This means you have to wear thick socks or house slippers to keep warm. With radiant floor heating in your house, the floors stay nice and warm – even at the height of winter! 

Even Heat Distribution

Have you ever walked into a room or a specific spot in your house and felt a chill during winter? At times, regular heating systems can cause uneven heat distribution, resulting in cold spots. You can experience even heating when you invest in hydronic water heating. 

Are There Disadvantages of Using a Hydronic Heating System?

A hydronic heating boiler can be a good investment for your home. This said, there are a few disadvantages to this type of heating system. 

High Installation Cost

These systems aren’t cheap. So, it’s important to note the installation cost beforehand. Professional builders have to remove the floor first. Next, the HVAC team must install the hydronic boiler system and piping. Finally, the builders come back to redo the floor. 

Expensive Repairs 

Hydronic heating requires adding piping to the floor of the house. While this is an effective heating system, it can be quite costly to repair. To fix it, a building crew must come in to take apart the floor. The HVAC team will fix the piping, and the builders will mend the floor again. 

You Will Need an Extra AC Unit

HVAC systems are effective since you can use them for heating and cooling. However, if you opt for radiant heating, it will mainly be for heating the house, not cooling it. This means you must invest in ductless ACs if your home doesn’t already have ductwork. You can’t rely on the hydronic heating system to cool your space when the weather gets warmer. 


If you want even heating and better climate control in your home, consider hydronic heating. Despite higher costs to install and repair, the advantages can be worth it. Contact a professional today to see if a hydronic heating system is right for you. 

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