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What is a Floor Furnace?

By Amy Hunter
Updated May 16, 2024
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A floor furnace is a type of heating system that is installed below the floor. When installation is complete, the furnace is level with the floor. The furnace works by sending heated air into the room, where it disperses. These furnaces are a common heating system in older homes, and they make a good choice for homeowners that wish to update their older home that does not contain ductwork. These systems radiate heat into the home, so ductwork is not necessary.

If you have never seen a floor furnace, you may be surprised the first time you encounter one. They typically look like an oversized heat register. If they are located in a hallway or small room it may not be possible to move through the home without stepping on it.

Most floor heaters do not have forced air or blowers, although there are fan floor heaters. In those that don't have a fan, the warmed air passes into the room through convection, gradually dispersing through the house. This method of heating is not always efficient. Rooms that are located further away from the furnace will be cooler than the room where the floor furnace is located.

If the home is large, has many windows, or poor insulation it may be impossible to keep the entire home comfortable. You may find that to get the rooms furthest away comfortably warm, the room where the furnace is located is uncomfortably hot.

If your home contains a floor furnace, or you are considering the addition of one, there are several ways that you can make your home more comfortable. Consider using small space heaters in bedrooms or bathrooms that are not adjacent to the room that contains the furnace. Add plastic film to the windows of your home to prevent drafts from entering. A ceiling fan in the room with the floor furnace, running on low speed, will help push the warmed air through the home.

You can also take advantage of the sun to help warm your home evenly. If the room that contains the floor furnace receives direct sun, particularly from the south or west, consider adding heavy curtains to block the sun and keep that room cooler. If your cool rooms receive sun exposure, pull the curtains open during the time of day when the sun is strongest so that the rays of the sun will heat the room.

While floor furnaces are not the most economical or efficient way to heat a home, if your home comes equipped with an operational floor furnace, it makes sense to do everything possible to use it to keep your home comfortable.

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Discussion Comments
By Certlerant — On Jan 04, 2014

Floor furnaces are more common in warmer climates, such as California and the southern United States. This makes sense because there is usually no need to heat an entire house in these regions.

In areas where floor furnaces are more common, most plumbers and furnace technicians do service them.

By Glasis — On Jan 03, 2014

These furnaces sound pretty rare. If a house does have one, would it be next to impossible to get it repaired if it breaks?

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