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2 Baseboard Heaters not working. Question about multimeter test / diagnosing

2 Baseboard Heaters not working. Question about multimeter test / diagnosing

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  #1  
Old 10-12-12, 08:18 PM
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2 Baseboard Heaters not working. Question about multimeter test / diagnosing

Hi everyone. First time posting, but I'm hoping you can help me with a problem.

I have 2 baseboard heaters in my home. They were working last winter, but both have stopped working this winter. I haven't made any changes to the electrical wiring on the 2nd floor (where they are located), but I have made some changes to the 3rd floor wiring. The 3rd floor has its own fuse box (which is incidentally run from the second floor panel), so the changes shouldn't affect the baseboard heaters. (The heaters still get power when the 3rd floor breaker is flipped off entirely.)

I'm not sure what caused the heaters to stop working. I flipped every breaker individually for both floors. I then tested both with a voltage tester, and they are getting power. The heaters are model F2548NWC. They seem to require 240V. I tried testing the power to the units with a multimeter, and I want to make sure I'm reading the result correctly.

I cut the power and unscrewed the orange wiring nuts from each of the 3 wire connections. I turned the power back on, turned the dial on the multimeter to 600V AC (1 click clockwise), put the red wire in V/Ω/MA and the black in COM, and then touched the each multimeter lead to a wire connection. I tried each combination of wire connections, but got a 0 reading each time. I turned the multimeter down to 200V (1 more click clockwise), and tried again. At most, I'm getting a reading of 0.5, but only briefly for a fraction of a second. Usually, the reading fluctuates between 0.1, 0.2 (and on occasion 0.3-0.5).

Am I correct that this indicates the maximum voltage for a reading of 0.5 is 100V? So that would mean the heaters are getting something in the 20V-100V range (0.1 to 0.5)?

I know details about the wiring in my house are important for a specific diagnosis, but is there anything common that might contribute to the voltage on a circuit breaker to change over a summer? I'm not sure what exactly to test to find out.

I'd be happy to take pictures or answer questions if that would be helpful! Thank you!
 
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  #2  
Old 10-12-12, 09:09 PM
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Forgive me, I'm old school and use an analog multimeter. I do not trust beeping voltage testers, (except when making sure I'm not going to get zapped working on the load end) lights, and generally do not like digital meters, although I have 2 of them. The heaters worked last year, you did some work on the 3rd floor, this year the 2nd floor heaters don't work. Re-trace your steps.
Kill the power, disconect heaters, verify resistance of the heat elements, verify therostat cut in/out. Then measure supply voltage (breakers on). If it's not 240, trace the cable back to source, and verify proper feed and connections.
 
  #3  
Old 10-12-12, 10:40 PM
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I cut the power and unscrewed the orange wiring nuts from each of the 3 wire connections. I turned the power back on, turned the dial on the multimeter to 600V AC (1 click clockwise), put the red wire in V/Ω/MA and the black in COM, and then touched the each multimeter lead to a wire connection. I tried each combination of wire connections, but got a 0 reading each time.
It sounds like you uncovered the wire splices but didn't take them apart. In order to accurately test the supply wires, you need to disconnect them from the load. Kill the power, uncover and untwist the wire splices, separate the supply wires from everything they could short or arc to, turn the power back on and test across the supply wires. Post back with those results.

They seem to require 240V.
Is the breaker a 2-pole breaker?
 
  #4  
Old 10-20-12, 06:30 PM
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Sometimes people don't reset the breakers properly, make sure u turn the breakers all the way to the off position then back to the on position. If all the breakers are on and u are using a multi meter then turn off the breaker, un splice all the wires in the heater junction turn the power on , test between each wire and ground it should read 120v then test between the hot wires which should read 240v, if not make sure the thermostat is on the on position.

If everything seems good (u are getting 240v). Reconnect the wires to the heater. If the heater is not working check the other end of the heater and make sure the wires are under one wire nut. Pics would help
 
  #5  
Old 09-27-13, 11:41 AM
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It's been a long time, but I just wanted to stop by and say thanks to everyone who posted to help out. (I thought I posted again last year, but I must not have!)

I did a bunch more testing based on the responses I got, but in the end I couldn't determine the reason the wires were no longer carrying a strong enough current. I just used space heaters for the winter, and I'll probably look at fixing them again this year, or calling an electrician to track down the problem.

Anyway, thanks again for the help. The responses were extremely useful!
 
  #6  
Old 09-27-13, 12:13 PM
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In your first post you did not have 240vac to your heaters. You measured nothing there.

Familiarize yourself with your meter. Put the probes into the meter and check a regular wall receptacle as a test. You should measure around 120vac.
 
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