How to Properly Use a Baseboard Heater

Properly using a baseboard heater will cut down on your monthly utility bills. These popular heating systems are either electrically run or produce heat through a hot water system with a boiler. If your baseboard heaters have been properly installed but you are experiencing problems operating them, there could be several areas that are causing this faulty operation. Follow these suggestions to ensure you are properly using a baseboard heater.

Step 1 – Tighten Wires First

Loose or improper wire connection can impede the operation of your baseboard heaters. Check to makes sure all wire connections are secure and tight. Make sure any thermostat wiring is wrapped in a clockwise direction under set screws.

Step 2 – Check Voltage

If wire tightening doesn’t improve usage, switch the power off to your heater. Examine the voltage supplied to the baseboard heaters with a hand-held voltage meter. Older homes, and ones that are either poorly or not insulated at all according to standards, may need an increase in supply voltage to get the unit to work properly. You may need to contact your electric power company to change your service to a 240V grid.

Step 3 – Remove Any Obstruction

Check the flooring around your baseboard heater to see if it is bunching or loose under the baseboard heater unit. If it is bunching up or is loose, take out all nails and metal attaching devices and tighten the carpet making it lay flat against the heater unit. Always pull back any drapes that might cover a baseboard heater as well as remove any furniture that may be blocking the performance of the unit. Your goal should be to have air flowing freely through the room at all times.

Step 4 – Damper Check

You should also make a damper check of your baseboard heater unit. The damper handle needs to be in a parallel position to the damper duct. If the baseboard heater is equipped with a twist-styled damper, make sure it is in the on position and set at an appropriate temperature  to provide adequate heat.

Step 5 – Vacuum the Coils

Remove the baseboard heater cover. Using either a handheld vacuum or a traditional household vacuum, clean all the coils removing dust and debris. This should be part of a regularly scheduled maintenance program to ensure proper baseboard heater operation.

Tips to Remember

  • Coil fins can easily be damaged. They are made of thin metal connected to the heater’s heating element and are designed to warm up the surrounding air. To operate properly, they need to be maintained in a flat, straight position. Check during periodic maintenance to realign bent fins. You can purchase a fin comb that can be used on an air conditioning unit as well as on all your electric baseboard heater coils.
  • Do not burn candles atop baseboard heater covers or use excessive amounts of cleaning supplies or sprays that might produce residue that collects on the heater coils. Check when conducting periodic maintenance for any grime that a vacuum does not remove and wipe the coils clean.