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AFUE DEFINITION, RATINGS
AGE of AIR CONDITIONERS & HEAT PUMPS
AGE of HEATERS, BOILERS, FURNACES
AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR HANDLER / BLOWER UNITS
AIRBOUND HEAT SYSTEM REPAIR by WATER FEED VALVE
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
ANTIFREEZE for BOILERS
ANTI SCALD VALVES
APPLIANCE DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN BUILDINGS
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACKFLOW PREVENTER VALVE, HEATING SYS
BACKFLOW PREVENTER, HEATER WATER FEEDER
BACKUP HEAT for HEAT PUMPS
BANGING HEATING PIPES RADIATORS
BIOGAS PRODUCTION & USE
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BLOWER FAN CONTINUOUS OPERATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION FLAMES
BOILER COMPONENTS & PARTS
BOILER CONTROLS & SWITCHES
BOILER LEAKS CORROSION STAINS
BOILER LEAKS, HOW TO LOCATE
BOILER NOISE SMOKE ODORS
BOILER OPERATING PROBLEMS
BOILER OPERATING STEPS
BOILER PRESSURE & TEMPERATURE SETTINGS
BOOKSTORE - InspectAPedia
BTU USAGE MONITORS
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
CARBON DIOXIDE - CO2
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CHEMICAL TREATMENTS for BOILERS
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
CHIMNEYS & FLUES, ASBESTOS TRANSITE PIPE
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CIRCULATOR PUMPS & RELAYS
COOL OFF HEAT, THERMOSTAT SWITCH
COMBUSTION AIR for TIGHT BUILDINGS
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
COMPLETE COMBUSTION, STOICHIOMETRIC
CREOSOTE FIRE HAZARDS
Curved Brick Chimneys - Sulphation
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
COMPLETE COMBUSTION, STOICHIOMETRIC
CREOSOTE FIRE HAZARDS
Curved Brick Chimneys - Sulphation
CONDENSING BOILERS/FURNACES DAMAGE
CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS
DEFINITION of HEATING & COOLING TERMS
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECT VENTS / SIDE WALL VENTS
DIRECTORY of OIL TANK EXPERTS
DRAFT HOOD, GAS HEATER
DRAFT MEASUREMENT, CHIMNEYS & FLUES
DRAFT REGULATOR, DAMPER, BOOSTER
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
DUST SAMPLING PROCEDURE
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
ELECTRICAL POWER SWITCH FOR HEAT
EVAPORATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS
FAN, AIR HANDLER BLOWER UNIT
FAN AUTO ON THERMOSTAT SWITCH
FAN, COMPRESSOR/CONDENSER UNIT
FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS
FAN LIMIT SWITCH
FAN NOISES, HVAC
FILTERS, AIR for HVAC SYSTEMS
FILTERS, OIL on HEATING EQUIPMENT
FIRE SAFETY CONTROLS
FIREPLACES & HEARTHS
FLAME COLOR, BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FLUE SIZE SPECIFICATIONS
FLUE VENT CONNECTORS
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
FUEL OIL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
FUEL UNIT, HEATING OIL PUMPS
FURNACE CONTROLS & SWITCHES
FURNACE EFFICIENCY, HIGH vs MID
FURNACE HEAT EXCHANGER LEAKS
FURNACE OPERATION DETAILS
FURNACE OPERATING TEMPERATURES
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GAS BURNER FLAME & NOISE DEFECTS
GAS FIRED WATER HEATERS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GAUGES ON HEATING EQUIPMENT
GEOTHERMAL HEATING SYSTEMS
HEAT EXCHANGER LEAK TEST
HEAT LOSS in BUILDINGS
HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS
HEAT LOSS INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS PREVENTION PRIORITIES
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HEAT PUMPS, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
HEAT TAPES & CABLES for ROOF ICE DAMS
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU COST TABLES
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING LOSS DIAGNOSIS-BOILERS
HEATING LOSS DIAGNOSIS-FURNACES
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
HEATING OIL - OLD, USEABLE?
HEATING OIL PIPING TROUBLES
HEATING OIL SHELF LIFE
HEATING OIL SLUDGE
HEATING OIL USAGE RATE
HEATING SMALL LOADS
HEATING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HEATING SYSTEM SERVICE FAQs
HEATING SYSTEM TYPES
HIGH EFFICIENCY BOILERS/FURNACES
HOT WATER HEATERS
HOT WATER IMPROVEMENT
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
GAS LP & NATURAL GAS SAFETY HAZARDS
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
NATURAL GAS COMBUSTION PRODUCTS
NO HEAT - BOILER
NO HEAT - FURNACE
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
NOISE AIR CONDITIONER / HEAT PUMP
NOISE, DUCT VIBRATION DAMPENERS
NOISE, HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISE, WATER HEATER
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL BURNER FUEL UNIT
OIL BURNER INSPECTION & REPAIR
OIL BURNER NOISE SMOKE ODORS
OIL BURNER NOZZLE & ELECTRODES
OIL BURNERS, RETENTION HEAD
OIL BURNER SOOT & PUFFBACKS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FILTER MISSING
OIL FUEL TYPES & CHARACTERISTICS
OIL HEAT FIRE SAFETY CONTROLS
OIL LINE CLOGGING FIX
OIL LINE QUICK STOP VALVES
OIL LINE SAFETY VALVES, OSVs
OIL FILL PIPE LEAKS
OIL PUMP FUEL UNIT
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
PLASTIC PLEXVENT ULTRAVENT RECALL
PULSE COMBUSTION HEATERS
PRESSURE REDUCING VALVES
PRESSURE REGULATOR, WATER
PUFFBACKS, OIL BURNER
PUMPS, PONY PUMPS
RADIANT HEAT FLOOR MISTAKES
RADIANT HEAT TEMPERATURES
RADIANT SLAB FLOORING CHOICES
RADIANT SLAB TUBING & FLUID CHOICES
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVE, TP VALVE, BOILER
RELIEF VALVE, TP VALVE, STEAM BOILER
RELIEF VALVE, WATER HEATER
RELIEF VALVE, WATER TANK
SAFETY, HEATING INSPECTION
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
SPILL SWITCH, FLUE GAS DETECTOR
STACK RELAY SWITCHES
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STEAM HEATING SYSTEMS
THERMAL EXPANSION CRACKS in BRICK
THERMAL EXPANSION of HOT WATER
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
THERMAL TRACKING & HEAT LOSS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
TRANSITE PIPE CHIMNEYS & FLUES
VIDEO GUIDES: HEATING SYSTEMS
VIDEO GUIDES - InspectAPedia.com
WATER HEATER SAFETY
WATER HEATERS for HOME HEATING USE?
WATER HEATER NOISES
WATER HEATER SCALE DE-LIMING PROCEDURE
WATER HEATER SCALE PREVENTION
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
ZONE VALVES, HEATING
This article describes the types of baseboard heat used in buildings and we explain the diagnosis and repair of heating baseboard troubles including no-heat or leaks or other problems. This article focuses on the installation, diagnosis & repair of hot water heating baseboards.
This article series answers most questions about all types of heating systems and gives important inspection, safety, and repair advice.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
Hot water heating baseboard is warmed by hot water circulating through either finned copper tubing or through cast iron baseboard sections. Carson Dunlop's sketch (below left) and our photo of a heating baseboard (below-right) show a typical modern hot water heating baseboard system installation.
Heating baseboard warms the room by a combination of radiation (the hot baseboard radiates heat onto surfaces in the room) and convection (cool air enters at the baseboard bottom, is warmed, and exits at the baseboard top - see Carson Dunlop's baseboard sketch below left). Electric heating baseboard also warms by radiation and convection but the baseboard itself is heated by an electric element rather than hot water. Details about electric baseboard heat are at ELECTRIC HEAT.
[Click to enlarge any image]
If your heating baseboards are not in fact getting warm when your thermostat is calling for heat and the boiler is indeed running, see AIRBOUND HEAT SYSTEM REPAIR by WATER FEED VALVE. You may also need to see AIR BLEEDER VALVES.
You can see by the larger water volume as well as the increased mass of the cast iron, that cast iron heating baseboards have more thermal mass than conventional finned-tube baseboard.
The increased thermal mass means more even heat distribution as the baseboards will continue to radiate heat for some time even when hot water stops circulating through the system.
Sketch of a cast iron heating baseboard courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
How Many Feet of Baseboard Heaters do We Need to Heat a Room?
The answer is ... it depends. Electric heating baseboard is figured at five to eight watts per square foot of the room. And for hot water heat, running a heat loss model such as the excellent program provided by Slant Fin™ can give a good estimate of the number of linear feet of heating baseboard will be needed for a given room or building area. But the following variables make an enormous difference in the answer:
Heating Baseboard Defects
Make sure that your room thermostat is set to a temperature higher than the temperature in the room - so that it is calling for heat.
Make sure that your heating boiler is working, that is that the heating boiler turns on and off normally. A hot water heating boiler may not turn on immediately when you turn up the room thermostat: if the water temperature in the boiler is already above the aquastat's cut-in temperature the circulators will send hot water to the radiator and the boiler will turn on later when its temperature is dropped by returning water from the cooler radiators in the building.
Reader Question about a Cold Baseboard Heat Room on a Single Zone - do I need to replace the aquastat?
2/13/2014 Question - Honeywell Aquastat Control Replacement said:
Really? I can't make sense out of the explanation given by your service tech. The aquastat turns the boiler on and off, and may control one circulator. I can't see how it knows one room of the home from another. The tech may be honest but a lousy communicator, but from just the information in your note, I don't get it.
[Click to enlarge any image]
If you don't know what kind of heat your building uses, we explain how to figure out the answer at HEATING SYSTEM TYPES. If your heating system is not working properly, see NO HEAT - BOILER or NO HEAT - FURNACE.
Continue reading at DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: mix up between hot water baseboard heat trouble, domestic hot water supply for washing bathing, and pump troubles that lose water pressure
I have a Hot Water Baseboard heating system in my mobile home. The other night a hot water faucet was left on slightly. It trickled out all night. This caused the system to run for over 8 hours straight. When we woke up we had no hot water. Come to find out the Water Heater circuit breaker tripped.
When I reset the breaker I started up the system and everything seemed to work perfectly...the heater fired up, the pipes got hot, the exhaust fan kicked on. But, no hot water was going to the faucets.
It does not appear that the circulatory pump was running. I replaced the pump two years ago when I moved in and it was working flawlessly. Is the pump bad or is some electrical problem happened that caused the circuit breaker to trip? - Conrad
Reply: a bit of clarification before diagnosis
We need to clarify the question as it looks as if you cite hot water baseboard heat and an electric water heater. Usually those are independent systems ... Or are you using a water heater both to make domestic hot water and also to run through your space heating baseboard ?
Question: the baseboard heat runs lack adequate clearance from the floor, blocking cool air inlet - how do we fix this?
I have inadequate clearance between the baseboard bottom and the floor surface - which blocks entry of cool air into the baseboard. What can I do to improve air flow without removing and raising the entire baseboard heater? - Dave
Reply: lack of air inlet at baseboard bottom cuts heat output and raises heating cost. Here's the cure:
Increasing floor clearance without having to remove and reinstall heating baseboard covers
If the blockage is due to wall-to-wall carpeting, you can try pulling back the carpet (with care to avoid tearing it) and cutting the carpet padding away for about 3-4 inches from and parallel to the wall where the heating baseboards are installed. Or remove the carpeting entirely up to an inch in front of the lower baseboard edge.
Too-low heating baseboard "fixes" to avoid
I would NOT "fix" this problem by leaving the baseboard covers off entirely. That mistake is ulgy, exposes the baseboard heat to damage, loses the convection effect of air movement up through the bottom and out at the top of the baseboard as designed, and risks occupants having cut bare toes that stub against the baseboard fins.
Similarly drilling holes in the baseboard cover loses the convection effects and prevents proper baseboard operation.
How to improve heat output & cut heating costs by raising heating baseboards that are too low
If the whole baseboard installation was made too close to the floor (check this by seeing if the bottom edge of the fins on the baseboard tubing is less than 3 inches from the floor surface (less than 3" is too close), then you have little choice but to relocate the baseboard installation higher on the wall.
The fix is an ugly one: one would have to
Question: I want to remove a section of baseboard
(Feb 14, 2012) Stacia said:
I have a hot water heating system with vents that run through the entire floor of the house. I want to remove a section so that I can install new kitchen cabinets (a completely different and more efficient layout) in its place. Can i remove just one section and expect that the rest will run? Or can I cover them with something heat proof and place cabinets in front of them (built in, so to speak)? Also, this part of the house sits on concrete slab so digging out pipes to re-route would be very difficult and pricey.
You can cover over part of a heating distribution system with heat resistant materials without expecting damage, though you'll lose some heat output in the area.
Question: creaking baseboard sounds
(Mar 9, 2012) Damian said:
I have a hot water heating baseboard and it makes very loud pinging and creaking sounds. It is only in the one baseboard in our master bedroom. All other baseboards in the house make the normal crackling sound. I bled the line and the sounds are still happening. Other than air issues, what else could be causing these annoying sounds?
(Jan 28, 2014) Noisy Baseboards said:
How do I reduce the noises, clicks, clanks of my baseboards?
Damian usually the heating baseboard sounds you describe are due to thermal expansion of the copper piping, perhaps combined with some binding of the piping where it passes through building floors or walls, or over mounts. Try using a mechanic's stethoscope to see if you can track down exactly where the noise is occurring; Often placement of a small piece of heat-resistant plastic between moving surfaces or enlarging an opening for piping is all that's needed.
(Nov 7, 2012) Anonymous said:
im about to install copper fin base boards on a basement floor. which will have its on circulator pump. my question is can i connect three baseboards in series then return back to a return manifold?
also on some of the runs i will have to run 3/4 cooper up a wall in order to get over an object then back down to install the next baseboard. will this cause any problems?
You can certainly do what you describe.
We suggest including an air leader valve at the high corner of that section of raised piping
Question: how to reduce too-hot baseboard sections & send more heat to other rooms
(Nov 11, 2012) Reduce heat from fin-baseboards said:
We live in a building with heating loops, but no individual controls. While a loop can be shut down, if it is, no heat can be forwarded to remaining apartments. Each apartment has fin-based heat. Some apartments are way too hot in the winter, while others are just right, cool, or cold.
It seems to us that we need to reduce the heat in the "too hot" apartments. What is your advice? Cut fins off the system? Or somehow wrap the fins so they don't radiate heat (if this is correct, how would it be done?)
Typically people replace some of the finned copper baseboard with solid copper piping without fins to reduce heat output.
First be sure you've also tried just closing the hinged louvers at the upper or outlet side of the wall-mounted baseboard covers.
(Jan 19, 2013) John E said:
We have two heating zones in our house and recently noticed that the zone for our bedrooms does not click on when increasing the temperature on the thermostat. The zone for the rest of the house kicks on instantly. what could be the problem?
(Feb 6, 2013) New Boiler blew out said:
I live at the Jersey Shore and had my hot water boiler replaced following Superstorm Sandy. Three months later, the new boiler has burned out. The HVAC installer is blaming the carpenters doing the work on my house because of too much dust. He is now seeking money from the general contractor and myself to replace the 3 month old boiler. Shouldn't there be warranties in place and incentives for the HVAC company to reinstall from the manufacturer? I see nothing where dust can blow out a boiler, I only see writeups where dust can impede the efficiency. Any advice on this would be very helpful.
(Feb 21, 2013) Tommy Baseboard said:
just refurbished the oil boiler and the new pressure valve keeps blowing. the valve is rated for 30 lbs. but the boiler hikes the pressure up to 40 lbs. when it kicks on. How do i lower the outgoing hot water pressure? Any help would be great...it's killing my mind.
(Jan 29, 2014) Anonymous said:
We have an old house with horsehair plaster walls and woodenn baseboards. In the 1960's someone took out the radiators and nailed hot water baseboard radiators against the wooden baseboards. The problem is drafts coming in between the wood floor and the wooden baseboards. Because the hot water radiator covers are nailed to the wooden baseboard, we cannot reach the drafts to caulk them. The nails made taking the covers off not an option. The wooden baseboards stick out from the wall. The radiator covers are an inch taller than the wooded baseboards, so there is a small space between the top of the cover and the wall. I was thinking of spraying foam insulation into this space, then caulking the bottom of the radiator cover that sits on the floor. This would "entomb" the draft and at least keep it contained behind the cover. Is this a reasonble solution, or are there other ideas to stop the draft coming into the house?
Please search InspectApedia for the article title
Steam or Hot Water Boiler, Heating Pipe or Radiator Noises: Diagnosis, Causes, Cures
to see how we diagnose and fix noisy pipes, baseboards, & radiators.
If you are convinced that the problem is where piping penetrates floorboards, you'll want to install slip joint seals there - neoprene or other plastic fittings that close the openings against drafts but allow the pipes to move without creaking.
I think before entombing or gluing or spraying - all possibilities - I would use a mechanic's stethoscope with some care to pinpoint the actual noise source.
Keep me posted.
(Feb 10, 2014) cynthia said:
4 storey apt building.I live on top floor, corner of building. Baseboard water/copper heating on complete perimeter of suite. Two years ago a vent stack in the wall leaked caused mold. Fixed. Now a chronic bad smell - almost wafting in at certain times of night and day. Always under the windows. Building built 1970's.....can't identify the smell but it is awful,and sometimes weather dependent, could it be the vent stack that sits in the wall. It does not penetrate the flat roof.
if there was even a single substantial leak into a wall cavity one would expect a mold problem unless proper work was done promptly - in 24-48 hours. Now, two years later, if you smell mold, there is mold - either because the initial cleanup was incomplete or because there's been another leak. The fact that you think the odor emanates from under windows may point to leaks at the window exterior flashing, trim, or even sills.
Search InspectApedia for "leaks at windows" to see details.
Question: how to test for chemicals contaminating the baseboard in my home
(Mar 27, 2014) Lina said:
Hello, how to inspect or test if there is chemicals on the baseboard heat fins in my home?
Lina you could use a sterile swab kit and services of a forensic testing laboratory, but I recommend checking first with your doctor.
Question: I would like to remove the endcap on the baseboard heater
(May 14, 2014) I would like to remove the endcap on the baseboard heater said:
HI. My 81 year old mom has a modest size bathroom and I am trying to free up as much space in there for her bathroom equipment needs. One thing that could help give a few inches in the door opening a little wider is if I could remove the left endcap on the baseboard heater which prevents the door from opening all the way. I might gain 1-2" on the door swing. For some reason (not sure why) there is no endcap on the other (right end). This is a nonelectric baseboard installed in 1970, i dont know the brand name, it has a dark brown aluminum cover. It does a good job of heating the bathroom, but takes up space,. Is there a downside to removing it? Thanks very much for your assistance! Sandy V010298@aol.com
If you remove all bathroom heat the risk is frozen pipes.
YOu could replace it with a kick-space heater located in the bottom of a vanity cabinet.
5/25/14 Rob said:
I live in a building condo that uses hot water baseboard heating. Is it normal to hear a low but still audible sound of flowing water coming from the copper which carry the hot water through the system?
Is it reasonable to expect that such a heating system should be completely silent when not in use/off?
Side-note: I do not have direct access to the main water pump or boiler.
"Normal" is not quite what I'd offer. It's common to hear some sound in hot water heating piping and most often that is an indicator that there is air in the system. If that's the case and the air quantity becomes significant, the system can become airbound and you'll simply have no heat.
When the system is not in use, it should not be making noise. If yours is making noise I wonder if hot water is circulating by convection, perhaps because a check valve is not working or was omitted.
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