For many of us, underfloor heating is presented as something complex, bulky equipment, through which it is possible to heat living quarters well. Talking about the fact that the installation of a warm floor is associated with hard work and great technological difficulties often becomes the reason for refusing to try to make such a heating system in your house. However, for that category of people who have an irresistible desire to create comfortable conditions in their own home during the cold season, to make a warm water floor with their own hands, the task is completely solvable.
Here it is important to have an idea of what the principle of operation of the entire system is and how important the presence of individual elements, components and assemblies in the home-made heating design is. Do-it-yourself installation of water pipes, laying a screed is half the battle. The main thing is to equip the system with the necessary instruments and devices that will not only perform the main work, but also control the entire process.
The value and place of the collector for warm water floors
Starting the installation of a warm floor with your own hands, you should be ready to install such a device as a mixing unit. In this situation, you can not do without such devices as a distributor, a circulation pump and a drain valve. All this and much more in the factory configuration costs a lot of money. A particularly expensive collector, which performs the main function — mixing cold and hot water for the subsequent supply of a coolant of the required temperature to the water circuit, regulates the operation of the entire heating complex. The device is a rather complex and high-tech design. Factory models are made of brass or stainless steel, so the price of such devices is correspondingly high.
Not everyone can afford to spend significant funds to equip a warm floor with the necessary equipment. In addition, if we are talking about heating small rooms.
For example: heating with warm floors in the bathroom can be done by hand at a minimum cost by connecting the water circuit to the heated towel rail. Buying an expensive collector for these purposes with all additional devices and equipment is inexpedient and unprofitable.
In this situation, you can assemble a collector for a warm floor with your own hands from available scrap materials, valves and accessories. If the collector can be assembled from improvised means, then you cannot do without a circulation pump, drain and three-way valve. If you have the courage, have the necessary financial resources, certain knowledge and patience, you can get to work. You should not rush, first try to understand and figure out how the collector works and why it is installed.
On a note: do not listen to those who claim that the collector is needed only in order to distribute flows through different heating pipes of the water floor. This is superficial knowledge. The so-called comb or distributor is engaged in the distribution of flows. The task of the collector is much more complex, larger and larger, from a technological point of view.
The collector for a warm floor performs not only the functions of distributing flows through the water pipes of a warm floor, but also participates in managing the operation of the entire system. Thanks to the collector, you will make your underfloor heating as efficient as possible. It should be said right away, do not confuse the mixing unit with the manifold. The mixing unit is a set of control equipment, while the manifold is an integral part of the mixing unit, which is equipped with any “warm water floor” heating system.
The device and principle of operation of the collector
The collector, or as it is also called, the comb, is included in the mixing unit. Without this device, it is difficult to imagine a normally functioning warm floor. Without this device, the whole point of heating through underfloor heating is lost. Being the most important element of the mixing unit, the collector ensures the mixing of water flows of different temperatures and their subsequent distribution through the heating pipes of the water circuit. In fact, the device consists of two similar parts, one part is supplying, while the other is collecting. Hence the name that exists among specialists, the distribution comb.
For reference: the distribution part is a node for supplying warm water to the underfloor heating piping system. The collecting part is specially designed to collect the waste coolant flowing in the opposite direction (return).
Structurally and externally, both parts are practically the same. The device is based on a large-diameter tube equipped with threaded side branches (holes). The number of holes corresponds to the number of water circuits connected to the equipment. In simple terms, a comb is a tee with the same parameters, twisted together. Therefore, for those who have at least some idea of plumbing, making a homemade collector will not be a pipe.
Having an idea of what a collector is and what its main tasks are, you can start planning your own heating system. In order to make a distributor, you need to know in advance what area the heated room will be, and what your heating needs are. So ask yourself the following questions:
- how many heating circuits will you have;
- what type will be the main source of water heating (we are talking about either a central heating and hot water system, or an autonomous boiler);
- what additional devices and devices will the heating system be equipped with (pump, temperature sensors, pressure gauges).
On a note: it is necessary to start making a floor heating collector with your own hands from choosing the design of the device. In other words, it is necessary to decide how the water pipes will be connected, respectively, in what position the distribution and collecting combs will be located.
There are a lot of technological nuances that you should pay attention to before you start assembling your device.
For example, gas or electric heaters are connected to the collectors from below or from above. When installing a circulation pump in the system, the connection will be only at the end of the comb.
In cases where you use an indirect heating boiler, solid fuel boilers as a heating device, the collector can only be connected from the end.
If you want to use water from the central heating system for underfloor heating, your collector must be connected from above or below. The figure-scheme shows the option of connecting the collector to the riser of the central heating system.
If it’s not difficult for you, transfer the design diagram and the position of the distribution combs to paper. At the same time, you can specify the dimensional parameters that you can rely on already in the process of work. It is appropriate to say here that the distance between the individual supply and return pipes must be at least 10 cm and not more than 20 cm. The same dimensions can also be used with the distance between the individual nodes, the collection comb and the distributor.
On a note: Try to make your device not only efficient and technologically advanced, but also compact. Otherwise, you may face the problem of installing a homemade collector in the future. An oversized device is more difficult to hide in a collector box, and the installation of an underfloor heating collector will negatively affect the interior of the heated room.
After drawing up a sketch, it will become clear how much and what you will need for further work on the manufacture of a home-made switchgear.
The process of assembling a homemade collector
If for you the heating system is concentrated in one room and for this you need only one water circuit, proceed with assembling the simplest collector. For these purposes, you will need:
- mixing valve ¾ inch;
- ¾ inch adapter;
- 90 degree elbow0;
- clamping sleeve ¾ inch.
As additional equipment, you will also need a circulation pump with an inlet with pipes with a diameter of 1 inch, a ¾ inch ball valve, air vents and a drain valve.
To make a manifold with your own hands, you can use brass components or metal-plastic valves, elbows, tees and adapters. Metal-plastic shut-off valves used for these purposes are cheaper and make it easy to improve the design of a warm floor, with the expectation of increasing the contours of a warm floor.
It is better to use round and square pipes for supply and return collection units. Rectangular metal pipes are considered the best option, since according to experts it is more convenient to work with them. Let’s consider how a home-made collector from metal-plastic pipes is assembled.
The manufacturing and assembly process can be divided into stages.
The first stage: in accordance with the dimensions indicated by you on the sketch, pipes are prepared from which separate fragments of the structure will be made.
The second stage: individual elements are combined into a single structure in accordance with the technological need and purpose;
The third stage: the installation of individual elements is carried out in places prepared for cold welding. Next, welding work is carried out using a cold welding machine;
The fourth stage: having assembled your own collector, you need to check it for leaks. Having closed all the pipes, one is left open in order to supply hot water to it. The absence of leaks at the joints indicates that you did everything right;
Fifth stage: installation of the collector at its permanent location and connection of the heating pipes of the water circuit to it.
Further, as necessary, the mixing unit is equipped with a circulation pump, a three-way valve and other elements of shutoff valves.
If you approach the issue of completing and equipping underfloor heating pragmatically, then a home-made collector fully justifies the efforts expended on its manufacture. The only “but” that can call into question all your efforts is the reliability of the design and functionality. A ready-made collector, which you can buy for a large investment, may not fit your existing heating system. Your work will be the other way around, as close as possible and adapted to existing technical conditions.
A homemade comb, in which you probably tried to take into account all the design nuances, should work normally and efficiently.
Comparing the amount of money spent on creating a homemade collector and the cost of the finished device, we can safely talk about significant savings. Many models of collectors today are not cheap. As a rule, the price of one device is comparable in terms of costs to half the funds spent on consumables and the subsequent installation of a warm floor.
For those who want to equip the heating system in the country in this way or make a warm floor in the bathroom, this option will be very convenient and practical. The installation of underfloor heating as the main heating system in a house on a capital basis puts increased demands on you. In this case, it is better to buy a factory model, for the quality and reliability of which the manufacturers are responsible.