Why Central Heating Radiators Are Bad For You

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Many of us have central heating and rely on radiators in each room to keep us warm.  Despite the name, radiators are really giant convectors and this post reveals why central heating radiators are bad for you.

Convection and Allergies

When air is heated it becomes less dense and rises: natural convection occurs.

But convection (air movement) circulates dust and (carpet) mites. This is seen on walls as dirty smudges above radiators.

Cleaning the wall is easy but this low quality air will also be in your wind pipes and lungs.

Dust mite is known to cause breathing allergies such as Asthma and other lung problems, sneezing fits, and more.

While dust mite allergy sufferers may go to some lengths (e.g. laminate flooring and ceramic tiles) to avoid obvious dust traps, unless internal air circulation is avoided the benefits will be limited.

Convection, Moisture, and Allergies (again)

Warm convection currents can carry more moisture than cold air and absorb moisture readily.  The convection currents dry everything they flow past, including plants, skin and lips.

Dry skin causes itching and is susceptible to infection. Chapped lips present an “open door” to oral disease such as oral herpes, cold sores or fever blisters.

It stands to reason that cold and dry outside air and wind also cause this condition.

But why create a drying effect at home and in offices where you spend most of your time?

Conventional central heating radiators (despite their name) are culprits because heat dispersion is 90% convection.

A recent survey revealed that (air temperature) thermostats on central heating systems are now set on average 4degC higher than in the 1970’s.  That means in many of today’s homes, equipped with radiators, convection currents are stronger than ever. The rise in allergies and dry skin conditions such as eczema may be related.

To counter the drying effect of warm air, people sometimes use humidifiers or simply hang a water reservoir on the radiator.

This has the effect of uncontrolled humidifying of the warmer air. Then:
•    The air cools off as it rises to the ceiling and travels to the far wall from where it falls back to the ground.
•    Cooling air means the air starts to give up the moisture it’s been carrying. The air cools more on colder surfaces causing condensation to form creating the conditions for a worse problem.
•    Condensation is mostly seen on windows, outside walls, and ‘bridge’ points in corners and at low levels where the floor meets the walls.
•    Condensation causes rot and promotes mould growth. Painting over such areas makes it invisible but the mould does not go away. Moisture is in the wall and mould grows, seen or unseen.

Mould spores cause allergy to some people. The symptoms are irregular and appear as always sickly, headache, not well, etc.

Now We Know That Central Heating Radiators Are Bad, What Do We Do?

Convection vs Radiant Floor HeatingThis site is all about radiant floor heating.  Radiant heating is not affected by air humidity, and does not change it either.

Radiant heating does not heat the air directly but the air will warm from contact with the surfaces warmed by radiant heating. Surfaces absorb the heat and will re-radiate if the surroundings are cooler.

If you're stuck with (convector) radiators turn them down, or turn them off, and get yourself some radiant floor heating.

If you are planning a new floor finish you can go for in-floor laminate heating ,or, if it is the smooth ceramic look you are after then install in-floor tile heating).

Otherwise, the one solution that everyone can go for - without any of the upheaval associated with a full installation - is an on-floor portable electric heater called RugBuddy.

RugBuddy is a type of heated floor mat that you cover with a rug. It can be used as a foot warmer in front of the sofa, or your favourite chair, as a conservatory heater, an under desk heater, and anywhere in the house that needs a bit of extra warmth.

Proper radiant heating design avoids the reasons why central heating radiators are bad for you.

Radiant heating doesn’t create air movement, nor does it directly affect air temperature or humidity. So it cannot cause condensation or mould, nor will it spread dust and mites.

Low energy radiant heaters do not cause any negative health effects or user risks.