Maintaining a Baseboard Heater

Modern baseboard heater
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Maintaining a baseboard heater will ensure your home always has a warmth that is all embracing. If installed properly, using electric baseboard heaters are one of the most economical and efficient home heating systems you can install. This is especially true for many older homes where installation of expensive air-based systems can cause a great deal of alteration to the home's original construction.

Duct work is expensive to install and sometimes not possible based on the architecture. Baseboard heater systems help maintain the architectural integrity for recognized antique homes. Although a great choice for home heating, they do have problems and limitations from time to time that need to be examined and dealt with for proper operation.

1. Move the Furniture Away

An electric baseboard heater will pull existing room air through the bottom while releasing heated air at the top. Most units are designed to sit about a half inch above the floor to allow proper airflow through the system. Due to this design, it is always important to NOT block the heater with furniture. Make sure when designing a furniture layout for a room with electric baseboard heating that you take placement of the heaters into consideration.

2. Heating Element

baseboard heater beneath a window

The inside heating element in a baseboard unit has a heating element connected to thin metal fins. These fins heat the air around them and then the heated air is vented into the room. These fins can become dirty and clogged as well as bent and easily damaged. Check to clean any debris and straighten out any bent fins to increase heater efficiency.

3. Temperature Control

Baseboard heaters present the advantage to controlling the temperature on a room-to-room basis. However, turning a heater off in an unused room is not a good idea. This could lead to pipes in the wall freezing and possibly the cold air in the unused room might seep out into other rooms making the heaters there work harder. It is better to set the heat in an unused room to about 50 degrees to improve heating efficiency in any unused room.

4. Thermostats

Although electric baseboard heaters have attached thermostats, consider installing a wall mounted digital thermostat to control all units in the room. The new thermostats are incredibly efficient allowing a number of temperature controls not available in traditional thermostats. Digital thermostats can also be pre-programmed to allow heaters to turn on and off and change temperature settings for different times of the day – or week.

5. Insulation

cutting away excess foam insulation

Providing adequate home insulation will help maintain your electric baseboard heater also. Your heater will operate more without proper insulation leading to premature wear and tear.

Baseboard heaters by design cannot combat drafts in wall seams or from ceilings that are not properly insulated. Thus, if not properly insulated, a room temperature must be maintained by the heater working harder. This will, obviously, decrease its life capacity while increasing your monthly electric bills.

Installation of weather stripping around doors and windows will help to keep room temperatures at desired levels while not calling for excessive use of your baseboard heater.

Keep in mind that use of a long extension vacuum head can help remove dust from the floor around a baseboard heater.