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Why is My Baseboard Heater not Heating?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

How To Solve Your Baseboard Heater not Turning On

Heating your house with electric baseboard heaters is both easy and cost-effective. They are great for zone heating because you can switch them off or on based on the room you’re currently in, and additionally they are able to mitigate heat loss because of windows.

Baseboard heaters are ideal because of their small size and ability to blend into the wall. There are also portable free-standing versions of the wide, thin gadgets. If you use it wisely and keep it tidy your baseboard heater will function properly for decades.

Concern about your baseboard heaters should not set in; we’ve developed a list of frequent issues and provided remedies. Most problems with electric baseboard heaters have simple remedies, but if yours is behaving oddly or you’re not confident handling it, you should contact a professional electrician immediately.

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Check out the article below for help troubleshooting your faulty baseboard heater.

What To Do When Your Baseboard Heater Is Not Working

If your baseboard heater isn’t producing heat, the issue might be quite minor or rather significant. The sort of baseboard heater that you own, whether it is electric or hydronic, might also play a role in the possible reasons for the problem. There are a few problems that are typical for water, oil, or electrical baseboard heaters, but there are a lot that aren’t.

If your electric baseboard heater isn’t getting hot enough, there may be a problem with the thermostat, an obstruction in the airflow, or an electrical issue with the wiring, current, voltage, or breaker. There is a possibility that oil-filled or water-based baseboard heaters contain entrapped air, clogged valves, malfunctioning pumps, or broken relays.

You need to make a prioritized list of the common issues that arise depending on your circumstance. A single-room installation of an electric baseboard heater, for instance, is considered a separate installation, meaning that there are fewer possible problems for you to examine.

Make Sure There’s Enough Power

Make sure you have the right amount of power. A typical room needs 10 watts each square foot. That means a 1500-watt heater can warm up 150 square feet. If your floor heater isn’t heating the whole room, you might want to add more units. Also, make sure that the power coming from the wall is at least as high as the heater’s grade. Look at the voltage of both the heater and the power lines to make sure they match.

Ensure Insulation Is Working and Keep Unused Rooms Warm

Check the insulation and keep rooms that aren’t being used warm: If your home has floor heaters, you need to make sure you have good insulation.

Baseboard heaters don’t save you money or time if they have to work harder and for longer compared to what they need to because of poor insulation. All-weather seals should be on all of your doors and windows, and any gaps should be filled with glue.

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Look over John’s clever baseboard heater repair tips.

Keep The Baseboard Heater Clean

Make sure you clean your floor heater. Dust makes them work less well. Wipe the front part of the baseboard heater down while it’s off. Vacuuming the vents is necessary once a year, right before winter. To help the heat spread better, uncover the baseboard heater shutters when you’re going to use them. Shut them whenever you don’t, so dust doesn’t collect.

Vacuum Up Any Debris

Remove any debris with a vacuum. Electric baseboard heaters work better when they are clean and free of dust and debris. While floor heaters are running, air flows continuously through the fans, making them easily clogged over time.

If a unit starts to get too hot because of clogging, it will turn off by itself. Also, check to see if any of the baseboard heaters’ thin metal fins are broken or bent. This can make them less effective at heating.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, delves into the reasons behind inconsistent heating in your baseboard heaters, along with a range of solutions and DIY tips to effectively tackle these issues.

Utilize an External Timer

Use an outside timer. The built-in thermostat in many floor heaters may not be the best at keeping the temperature stable. If the output of your floor heater doesn’t match the setting, you might want to place a wall-mounted timer for it.

You can’t connect a baseboard heater to a centralized heating system because they need their own timer. However, they shouldn’t cost too much and are often worth the additional expense.

Investigate and Examine The Wiring

For a baseboard heater that isn’t functioning, first check for potential wiring errors. Carefully examine the wires, especially if you suspect this to be the problem. Ensure the power reaching both the baseboard heater and its connecting wires is adequate. If the voltage seems correct but the heater still isn’t working, it might be a case of insufficient power. Look for any signs of damage like burn marks or other anomalies.

Next, assess the circuit breaker. If it’s initially cool to the touch but then heats up or trips, this could indicate a broken wire link. A circuit breaker that trips immediately after being reset, but before the heater control is turned on, suggests a short between the thermostat and the circuit breaker. Check for damage to the wiring leading to the thermostat, including burn marks, frayed spots, and other signs of wear. If the circuit breaker remains on but the heater doesn’t warm up, the problem might be related to the heating element, temperature control, or limit switch. You can use a multimeter to test each line for breaks.

Check In With the Manufacturer

When you turn on a new baseboard heater for the first time, it smells dirty and smokey. This is because the coating on the heating part is still wet from the manufacturing process. Make sure your room has a lot of air flow, and wait about 30 minutes. The smell should go away. If it’s still there, you should call the maker of it and ask whether they are able to help.

Safety and Fire Hazards

Baseboard heaters are generally safe but require careful use and maintenance. Ensure sufficient clearance, avoid covering the heater, and regularly inspect for wear or damage. Replacing an old or malfunctioning heater might be a safer option.

Call A Professional For Help

Hiring a skilled HVAC specialist to inspect the wiring is the best and easiest course of action if you suspect something is wrong. The quickest, easiest, and most reliable way to address issues with your electric baseboard heaters is to call a professional who understands what they’re doing.

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Never hesitate to call on an HVAC expert for assistance.

Baseboard Heater FAQs

Should I maintain my baseboard heater regularly?

Yes, you should perform maintenance on your baseboard heater often. Maintenance is always a good thing.

If you take care of your baseboard heaters and use them properly, they should keep your home warm for decades without breaking down or requiring replacement.

Is a baseboard heater worth it?

Baseboard heaters are an excellent and consistent source of heat for rooms that are often very modest. Yes, you may encounter problems, but that’s something that anything you own can go through.

If you follow the instructions for correct use, you should be able to address the issues that these heaters may cause. In the event of a significant problem, always contact a professional electrical baseboard technician. For more complex issues, it’s best not to attempt repairs on your own.

Why does my baseboard heater smell bad when I turn it on?

It is not unusual for electric-powered baseboard heaters to emit a burning or chemical smell. This is because the lubricant contained within the valve heats up and releases its odor when the valve warms up.

If this problem persists for longer than an hour, however, you should turn off your electric baseboard and contact the manufacturer to prevent any potential fire hazards.

Hire a Local HVAC Pro

The troubleshooting techniques described above offer practical DIY solutions for addressing common issues with your baseboard heater. If these steps don’t resolve the problem or if you prefer professional assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified HVAC technician. For expert help, you can use the contact information or form provided on this page.

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