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Floor Heat ...installed wrong??

Hi all...thanks in advance for any help/advice you can provide. I recently had 2 bathrooms remodeled by a local contractor. Good enough guy and all has gone ok until I finally turned on the electric in floor heat in the master bath. It was installed on top of a subfloor and had porcelain tile laid above. He installed suntouch mats and a suntouch command thermostat. I turned it on after 30 days for the first time, per contractors instructions. Here are my 2 issues: first- no matter how high I turn up the temp setting on the thermostat...it always reads a temperature of between 70 and 74 degrees. Ive set the thermostat for the highest temp possible (96 degrees) and tested the actual floor temp at the tile and get readings At 85-90 degrees fairly quickly. The problem is that the thermostat still won't budge over 74. So when I set a program to heat to 80, the thermostat assumes the real floor temp is only 74 and will basically heat forever and never get to the set temp. I looked up the manual online and tested the sensor wires for resistance, which checked out fine according to the chart listed. My assumption is that the sensor is installed outside of the heating coil grid and basically registering the ambient temperature of the surroundings, instead of the actual heat of the radiant system. I did a quick test this afternoon...... I turned off the thermostat and my furnace and let the house temp go down to 68. Both my house thermostat and suntouch floor thermostat read 68 degrees. I kept the furnace off and cranked the suntouch up to 90. After a half hour, the suntouch thermostat red only 70 degrees, while an actual thermometer placed against the surface of the floor was reading 85.

Second issue: the master bathroom is only 46" between the wall and the vanity. The contractor used a 30" wide mat for the install. After I finally turned it on after the 30 day wait, I came to find out that he installed the 30" mat against the non-vanity wall. So, this leaves me with a 14" space that is left unheated (and cold) exactly where one would stand to use the vanity. The dead space against the other wall, where the door hinges too, is fully heated. I cannot comprehend why he would have done this. Shouldn't the entire floor surface be evenly heated, with the exception of under vanities, toilets, etc?

I did call the contractor yesterday and told him about the issues. His response for the first issue was that sometimes the thermostats aren't calibrated that well. His suggestion was just to adjust the program settings so it will just turn on and heat in the morning, then shut off, then turn back on in the evening, then shut off. So on and so forth. His suggestion is basically telling me that I'll never be able to get the temp of the floor to an accurate setting. His response to the second issue was that the mars only come in 30" wide sections and that he bought a 6' long roll so he only had so much to work with. He also said that he couldn't get close to the vanity or toilet with the mats (neither were installed at time of install, but he knew the specs of vanity and toilet). However, when I tested the floor temp today with a thermometer, it is obvious that the floor is indeed heated under the front edge of the toilet. Seems like another excuse.

Now....I'm a contractor myself, not related to interior home improvements, but experienced in customer service and working with homeowners and general contractors nonetheless. I certainly acknowledge that I do have a bathroom floor that heats up when I tell it to. I am just really having a hard time justifying not making him tear out the granite counter tops, new vanity, toilet, and the entire tile floor to fix the issue and make this the way we wanted it.

Any advice, comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Comments

  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    edited November 2016
    Heating wires can be had in a spool so you can loop a custom loop at an odd length or width.

    How was the wire installed? They can be butchered also. Bad Sensor placement can screw up your readings.

    If you are planing on using it to heat the bathroom I would use the method of burrying it in self leveling cement. Then the tile layer. There is also a product called dirtra heat which provides crack isolation and channels to run the heating wires.

    But it sounds like the project is finished....
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Sounds to me like there is not enough floor Matt to actually heat the space adequately. More for floor warming. Bathroom radiant floors usually are undersized for the space because of lack of usable floor area. Tubs, showers, toilets, vanities take away usable floor area. The floor is warming as you have found. Maybe miss communication as installer was thinking floor warming if there is already other heat to the baths.
  • nobullfrogs
    nobullfrogs Member Posts: 6
    Please allow me to clarify- I did make it clear that we wanted the in floor heat to just warm the floor and Not heat the room. So it is particularly maddening now that the place that me and my wife stand the most is cold as ice, right in front of the vanity/sink. Also the sensor is most definite installed in the wrong location. I mean, logically it just has to be for actual thermometer readings to be 10+ degrees off from the thermostat. I guess the big question is.....do I ask him to tear out the floor and redo the floor heat? unfortunately he is paid in full, as the project finished and I couldn't turn on the floor heat for 30 days to let the thinset cure.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    What is in the contract? What was shown in the plans for the remodel? Unless there is something in your documents addressing this specific item and your expectations I honestly don't see you having any recourse if it wasn't done to your expectations. I don't disagree with you, but these specific items should have been in the contract. Mat size, location etc.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    @nobullfrogs, is the non-vanity wall adjacent to the tub or shower? Just trying to see if there was some (however weak) logic to placing the mat where it was placed, as opposed to in front of the sink. To me, it would seem that you would want floor warming in front of the sink, the tub/shower entrance, and in front of the toilet. They do make toilet gaskets that can resist the heat from the floor warming.

    If the temp sensor is not placed correctly, it doesn't sound like it was installed as per installation instructions (download the instructions and review them). Do you have photos of the install as it was proceeding showing the locations of the various components?

    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • nobullfrogs
    nobullfrogs Member Posts: 6
    Thermostat sensor isn't working properly....that should be all the recourse I need right?
  • nobullfrogs
    nobullfrogs Member Posts: 6
    I did read through all of the install paperwork and instructions myself after the fact. The main open floor area is approximately 6' in length and 46" wide. He used a 6' x 30" mat for the heating I found out....when he should have probably used an 8' x 30" mat and used that extra 2' worth of heating coil to run in front of the sink and toilet. Just a poor design with really no prethinking or consulting with me. The sensor should have been placed at least 12" into the 'grid' and between 2 heat coils. I put down a big bag of ice water all over the floor to see if I could locate the sensor and get it to register a dropping temp. No luck, which leads me to believe he installed the sensor under the vanity, as the new vanity was installed after the entire bathroom was tiled wall to wall.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,429
    If the cabling or mat is not under where your feet would be, it's not likely to be warm.
    nobullfrogs
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840

    He used a 6' x 30" mat for the heating I found out....when he should have probably used an 8' x 30" mat and used that extra 2' worth of heating coil to run in front of the sink and toilet.

    As far as I know these mats can't be cut. They will make custom ones to suit your needs, but they are made with one continuous wire so there isn't a way to cut it and move part of it to another area. Someone above mentioned Ditra heat, that is probably the most flexible variation of floor heating available. It's just the wire so it can be run however the homeowner wants.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    This video shows that the mats can be cut and the wires re-positioned (without cutting the wires) to accommodate layouts that differ from the manufactured size:

    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • MikeG
    MikeG Member Posts: 169
    I just started up a bath electric floor mat system Saturday in my son's house and this just my experience. Most of the mat systems sellers have standard mats and custom mats based on your layout. Some have the wire system where you string your own. This was not a custom mat but they gave me a layout using standard mats. You can't cut the wires but the mesh grid on most of these can be cut to turn and flip to change direction etc. You can separate the wire to fill in odd areas or run to another location to finish out an area. Then again we had it all drawn and scaled out. We planned for the critical areas, in front of vanity, shower, toilet etc. The particular vanity use here is a re-purposed dresser so it was open underneath but still we did not run under it in case it get changed later to a conventional vanity. We installed two floor sensors, one as a backup if ever needed. There was specific directions on where to put it. We set the temp to 74* and let it run for a couple of days. You can feel the border between unheated and heated. I have not put a thermometer on the floor to check actual temps. The thermostat is programmable literature and the literature talks about setbacks at night, weekends etc. Sure it may react a bit faster than some radiant systems but set it and leave it. We have tile in thinset, the electric mat was embedded first in thinset, on top of 1/4" cement board on top of 1/4" underlayment, on top of old farmhouse T&G floor boards. Some fiberglass insulation underneath. This is upstairs. We will get some back radiation so we are just looking at heating up the mass. We are getting some heat migration into the non cabled area. We'll see how it goes. We also have a small electric wall heater if needed. The whole bath is super insulated. We are gearing up to gut the downstairs bath now that this one is up and running. We will probably do the same type of setup. I can't comment on the contract issue.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    From all I have read in the postings bottom line to do it right, and be happy floor comes up, and matts get redone correctly.

    The installer sure was not thinking about where people would need, or want a warm floor most in a bath area. As you say in front of vanity, next to shower, or tub, and sitting on the commode. Let alone main traffic area.

    Whether or not it's a recourse for the installer to redo the work would be a fight I'm quite sure.

  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    From all I have read in the postings bottom line to do it right, and be happy floor comes up, and matts get redone correctly.

    The installer sure was not thinking about where people would need, or want a warm floor most in a bath area. As you say in front of vanity, next to shower, or tub, and sitting on the commode. Let alone main traffic area.

    Whether or not it's a recourse for the installer to redo the work would be a fight I'm quite sure.

  • nobullfrogs
    nobullfrogs Member Posts: 6
    thanks for the input guys...at this point I'm just going to approach him and say it's not what I would have expected from a professional. All in all, it's not the end of the world to leave it as is, but I would expect some $$ back for an underwhelming and improper installation. I watched a 5 minute Youtube video and I feel more educated in these products than he must have been!
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    No harm in asking. I'm sure if you explained what you have learned he has no argument.
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 616
    He at least needs to fix the thermostat since that doesn't work. Doing so is going to require some removal of the existing floor and patching it back together. I'd be inclined to ask him to remove and replace the entire floor and install the mat correctly if you provide materials and he provides labor.
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/154385
    System Photo: https://us.v-cdn.net/5021738/uploads/FileUpload/79/451e1f19a1e5b345e0951fbe1ff6ca.jpg
  • Steve Minnich
    Steve Minnich Member Posts: 2,680
    Another "Geez" from me.
    This another example of a conversation that should have taken place earlier.
    Moral of the story -> Hire ethical, moral, competent, highly skilled, and able contractors who care and charge accordingly.
    If I screwed up that bad, I would do whatever it took to make it right.
    Steve Minnich
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
    [email protected]
    lchmbGordyPaul Pollets
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Which brings up a good point. How bad does the contractor want a good future reference from the owner. You will stand at that vanity, and the thought of how it should have been done will never go away.
  • nobullfrogs
    nobullfrogs Member Posts: 6
    He's a very small operation so we'll see. As a landscape/irrigation contractor, I've spent thousands in cost to make jobs right. I fully know how fast bad news travels. We'll see how he reacts.