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Warm Tootsies

Since the basement is under the house and very cold all year – I was very challenged with how to heat the space. I’ve read all sorts of great reports about hot water radiant floor heat and electric and I talked to my HVAC company about adding a duct to the room but everything seemed wasteful or too expensive. Naturally, I looked into the DIY route and found out that DIY kits for electric floor heat are marked up enough so that they don’t take business away from contractors. In other words- it’s practically the same price to hire someone to install it or do it yourself. So I found Billy with A&B Tile. I talked to him about my project and also that I was a little nervous to do it myself since it had electricity involved. He has set plenty of Warm Wire in his day so that’s the brand I bought and he installed. I only had him lay the wire and I will tile the floor. That’s saving me about $6.00SF so it made it affordable for me to do. ┬áHe and his team did an amazing job. He brought 4 guys in for the project so they could get it done it one day – and they did! They stayed late – but they kept us right on schedule. I can’t say enough great stuff about A&B Tile, so if you want their contact information for your next job, let me know!

This is a blog though – So I’m going to show you how they did it. To be honest – if I ever did this again, I will definitely do it myself, I’m just glad that I watched it get done the first time!

The product I bought is called Warm Wire and the package looked like this:

Billy with A&B Tile bought Self Leveling Quick Set to make sure the wires stay in place.

Here is a close up of the warm wire during installation

This is what they did – they used these strips that remind me a lot of carpet tack strips and they nailed them into backboard. They put the strips directly across from each other so the wire could be strung back and forth.

Then they took the beginning end of the wire and inserted it into the “LoudMouth” that came with the kit. This tool has a green light that stays on so the installer knows that the wires are working but not hot. That way if they mess up or break it – the Loud Mouth will scream and the installer will know that something is wrong or the wire needs to be replaced. When I was reading the instructions online – this is the part that made me the most nervous. I didn’t see how Billy did it – but he said it only took a minute and the instructions are step by step.

Then Billy cut out channels into the backer board that lead up to the wall so that the wires can go up the wall and hit the thermostat. Then to start the run, he pulled up the horizontal tab to make one straight line to the other side and then started zig-zagging it back and forth using the vertical tabs.

In order to keep the wire from getting tangled they had one guy holding the spool and another guy putting it into the tabs.

The tabs are very much like the clasp on an envelope – they are a light metal so you just grab it

Bend it up

Put the wire under it and then push the tab back down

So you can’t terminate the wire so that it lands directly where you want it. you have to carefully plan out how far apart you want the loops to go so it ends exactly where you want it to. .

In this case – since we have 300sf, there where two spools one longer than the other – so the loops varied in distance

In the middle of the spool there is supposed to be a pink tab so you can make sure you are getting the wire as far as you need it. In this case – Billy didn’t notice that the tab was black and ran out of wire early. No big deal! He just lifted the tabs back up and re-calculated the distance from one tab to the next. He was very careful though – because like mailing envelopes, if the tabs are over bent, they will break off.

Next they mixed the self leveling quick set with water. In the picture below, Billy is holding a drill with a mixer on the end and his co-worker is pouring the Quickset into the garbage can already filled with some water.

The guys just poured the bucket over the space and let it level itself. One of the guys carefully looked through it to make sure there weren’t any chunks that needed to get picked out.

I decided that in order to save a little but of cash – I would cut corners (literally) I only had the Warm Wire installed 1.5′ from the wall on all sides and 6″ from the front door and the cabinets.

Here is a photo of the space when I came back a few hours later… already starting to dry! Yeay!

It wasn’t the cheapest project on the schedule but it was the best option for heating the space and will make the space a little easier to rent. Also, it will save me on utilities because if I had no heat in the space then the user would end up using a space heater which is practically the least efficient piece of equipment on the market. This Warm Wire doesn’t use too much energy and the user will probably use it sparingly because the perception will be that they are warm since their tooties will be warm!

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