Electric baseboard heaters are not as common as they once were. However, they do still exist in some older homes and in homes where heating is only occasionally needed. If you have electric baseboard heaters, it is important to keep a close eye on them. They are a bit prone to failure, and when they break down, prompt repairs are important. Here are some of the most common problems seen in electric baseboard heaters — and the ways in which heating contractors address them.
Does your baseboard heat keep tripping your circuit breaker? Maybe the heat kicks on for a few minutes, and then the breaker flips and the heat turns off. This behavior often means that your electric heater is short-circuiting somewhere. In other words, wires somewhere in the system are touching each other or another metal object where they should not be doing so. A heating contractor can usually locate a short circuit by testing the voltage across the wiring in a few different areas. Once they figure out where the problem is, they can make changes to the wiring to keep the heater from continually tripping the circuit breaker. Not only will this restore heat, but it will improve safety.
Perhaps the baseboard heat kicks on and your home gets hot, but then the heater just keeps running and running until your home is absolutely sweltering. If this happens to you, then there is likely something wrong with the thermostat or the connection between your heater and the thermostat. The heater is not getting the message that the thermostat setting has been reached, so it is never turning off. An HVAC contractor may need to replace the thermostat or repair some wiring between the heater and the thermostat. In the meantime, you can compensate by manually cutting power to the heaters when your home is as warm as you'd like it.
A burning odor from a baseboard heater can be alarming, but it's not usually as bad as you might think. Check to ensure nothing is sitting on or near the heater in a place where it could light on fire. Once you're confident this is not the issue, you can restore power to the heater and call a heating technician. Chances are, there is just dust on the heating elements. A pro can open up the heater and clean this up, putting an end to the burning odors.
If you have electric baseboard heaters, keep your eyes out for the issues above. Talk to a heating contractor if you need any assistance.