How to Repair Toe Kick Heater Problems

What You'll Need
Replacement pipe section
Pipe filler
Number for a repair person

A toe kick heater is an easy solution for providing heat in areas where space is limited. They can be installed under cabinets, making it an ideal choice for supplemental heat in areas such as drafty kitchens or bathrooms. There are several types of heaters available, and common problems can be easily fixed most of the time. Here is a simple guide to repairing toe kick heaters.

Step 1: Check the Thermostat

If your toe kick heater is not producing heat, the thermostat could be to blame. The thermostat in these heaters isn't the easiest thing to reach, but it can be tested. You will need to remove the panel that is holding the heater in place. On the back of the heating unit you should see a plate that is held on by a few small screws. Remove this panel and you can find the thermostat. In most cases it sits directly behind this panel. You can use your ohm-meter to test the thermostat.

Step 2: Check Water Supply 

For a hydronic heater, the water supply may have a problem. If the supply isn't flowing well, or if there is a leak, the heater won't be able to produce the amount of heat needed. For this step you will need to follow the supply of water from the heater itself to the boiler. This may require you to get under cabinets and crawl in dark areas. A flashlight will help you spot leaks. If you have a leak in the piping system, you can plug the leak or replace the section of pipe, depending on what type of pipe it is. You may also want to check the flow to ensure the pressure is still strong enough. 

Step 3: Check the Boiler

Chances are you will notice the hot water heater or boiler causing problems before you notice it in the toe kick heater. Some homes use a separate boiler system for the hydronic toe kick heaters. If this is the case, you may not notice a problem. A few things to check with the actual boiler would be the fuel source, the pilot, the burner, and the ignition switch. If all of these are in order, then the problem is likely not with the boiler.

Step 4: Circulation Pump

If the thermostat is working and the problem can't be found in the line or the boiler, it's time to move on to the circulation pump. The circulation pump is designed to push water from the boiler lines through the hydronic heater. This must function in order to produce heat. This is a difficult job and may be best left to professionals. It requires access to the water lines, as well as electrical lines. You will need to cut pipe to remove the old pump and install a new one. If you aren't comfortable with extensive repairs, call a repairman.