Central Heating Installation
A functional central heating system is important for your home. If you need a new central heating system, sourcing the right components and materials is just as important as having it properly installed.
Central heating installation done correctly increases the lifespan and boosts the efficiency of your new heating system. If you want to ensure that all components of your central heating installation are installed correctly, consider hiring a professional contractor.
Here we outline what you need for central heating installation and answer the common questions that come up from time to time.
What is central heating installation?
Central heating installation is the process of connecting and setting up an individual room's worth of water and electrical systems to a central unit that sends heated air into all those rooms. Heating systems come in one, two or three pipe/duct setups, with different components handling each system type.
The one-pipe system has only one supply line that connects the boiler to the individual heating units. The two-pipe system has a supply line and a return line that brings heated water back to the boiler. Three-pipe systems have a supply line, a return line and an auxiliary pipe or loop, which carries cold water between rooms that are farthest apart.
Central heating installation is a complex job that requires skill, attention to detail and some heavy-duty equipment. It's advised that you hire an expert, especially if your central heating already exists and needs major renovation or replacement.
What are the major types of central heating?
There are three types of central heating - steam, hot water and hot air, and each type has a number of variations. The choice of which system to install is down to many factors including cost, space available and the size of your home.
The most common type used in homes today is the steam or hydronic central heating system. The heated water rises through a network of plastic or copper pipes and distributes warmth into the rooms that it supplies.
A steam heating system is like having an infinite number of water heaters working simultaneously to keep your home at the perfect temperature. A boiler burns fuel (wood, oil, gas or coal) to create hot water under pressure. The operator of the system will make sure that there is a continuous supply of this pressurized hot water by opening and closing valves on different radiators around your home. Once installed in your home the system only requires the boiler to be fired up when something needs heating.
Hot Water System:
Boilers convert fuel into hot water which is then distributed to radiators throughout your home.
The boiler heats up the water and uses a pump to circulate it through your system. The amount of hot water that flows depends on the output of the pump and how much you have turned up the flow in your radiators, but there will always be enough to go around. There may need to be more than one boiler depending on how big a home is.
Radiators distribute hot water from the boiler throughout a house or building via a series of pipes. Hot water flows from the boiler along the main pipe until it reaches a radiator where the hot water is released and travels out through smaller branch pipes to the individual rooms.
The hot water flows through the branch pipes into the radiator and then back into the main pipe that leads back to the boiler. This cycle carries on until you turn down your radiator thermostat or switch off your central heating system at night when there is no one in need of heat.
Hot air system:
In the hot air system, the fan blows cold air over a radiator and heats it up. The heated air is then distributed to an area via ductwork. Colder air comes in from vents in the floor and ceilings and passes over another radiator, heats it up, and pushes it out into the room.
A hot air heating system always has a boiler and pipework so the home must be built with ducting in mind to avoid renovations.
Central heating is just that: it heats several rooms at once. If you have ever had to heat up one room at a time, maybe with a small electric heater, you already know how expensive and wasteful this is. While the initial installation of the piping and radiators requires more work than a hot air system, it can be faster and easier to run because only one heating zone (an outlet that emits heat) is required for multiple rooms.
The most common central heating installation is forced hot water heat through radiators, though many people prefer hydronic systems with radiators or tubing under the floor.
Preparation for Central Heating Installation
Before starting your central heating installation project, there are some things you can do to save time and money.
An inspection of the existing plumbing will save you from an expensive mistake or finding that you have to completely reroute your external pipes because of a difficult foundation.
If your house is wired with copper external water pipes, think about replacing these with PEX as it is easier to work with and more durable.
You should also consider installing shut-off valves for your external water supply, which will make it easy to cut off the water when preparing the concrete slab.
If you are working in an old house, check that the floor joists are not wet before starting work. If they are, this means there may be problems with leaking waste pipes or drainage issues that require professional attention prior to commencing the rewiring process.
If you identify issues like these, call a local plumber and get them fixed before you start work on your central heating installation.
You can also use substitutes for some of the materials such as PEX tubing instead of copper piping if desired. You just need to ensure that whatever substitute you choose is safe for the central heating system.
The cost of materials should be much less than hiring a professional installer, but you will need to make sure that any substitutes are safe prior to using them.
How long should central heating take to install?
A central heating installation can usually be completed in a single day with one or more professional plumbers. If the pipes have to be exposed during renovation work, however, you may need a week before being able to use your new system.
Central heating installation varies depending on how many rooms and radiators (sets of outlets) and also if underfloor heating is desired. On average, a central heating install takes 4 to 10 days.
How much should central heating installation cost?
Central heating installation varies depending on the amount of pipework and radiators. A typical central heating install costs between £3,200 to £5,000.
The total cost for a central heating installation depends on the method you choose and the location of your new system, so it may be difficult to estimate. If the central heating installation requires major renovation or replacement, then it could cost more than a basic installation as it is a more intricate system.
The cost of central heating installation can also vary greatly based on the type of heating system you install, whether you do the work yourself or hire a professional plumber to do it, and other factors.
Can I install my own central heating?
Yes. Most modern central heating systems are DIY-installable, though you may need to get a professional for certain complicated tasks like piping through concrete slabs. You can expect to pay between £500 to £800 for the full installation.