Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
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
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BOOKSTORE - InspectAPedia
BTU USAGE MONITORS
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS
COOL OFF HEAT, Thermostat Switch
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
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS - HYDRONIC COILS
FAN LIMIT SWITCH
FAN NOISES, HVAC
FURNACE CONTROLS & SWITCHES
FURNACE EFFICIENCY, HIGH vs MID
FURNACE OPERATING TEMPERATURES
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GEOTHERMAL HEATING SYSTEMS
HEAT LOSS INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS PREVENTION PRIORITIES
HEATING COST SAVINGS
HEATING LOSS DIAGNOSIS-BOILERS
HEATING LOSS DIAGNOSIS-FURNACES
HEATING SMALL LOADS
HEATING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HEATING SYSTEM TYPES
HOT WATER HEATERS
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
NO HEAT - BOILER
NO HEAT - FURNACE
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
NOISE AIR CONDITIONER / HEAT PUMP
NOISE, DUCT VIBRATION DAMPENERS
NOISE, HEATING SYSTEMS
RADIANT HEAT Floor Mistakes to Avoid
RADIANT HEAT TEMPERATURES
RADIANT SLAB FLOORING CHOICES
RADIANT SLAB TUBING & FLUID CHOICES
SAFETY, HEATING INSPECTION
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
Electric heat installation & repairs: This article describes the types of residential electric heating systems and their inspection, diagnosis & repair. We describe each type of electric heat used in buildings and provide links to further and more detailed electric heat diagnosis & repair articles for each heater type.
This article series answers most questions about all types of heating systems and gives important inspection, safety, and repair advice. Sketch at page top courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.Electric heat is about the easiest heating method to install, the least costly type of heating equipment to purchase, and in many locales, the most costly way to heat a conventional home.
Super-insulating a building, and paying special attention to drafts and air leaks can change that picture however, as can special electrical rates available from utility companies in some areas.
[Click to enlarge any image]
This article describes different types of electric heat in buildings and give some inspection and no-heat diagnosis tips for each.
Our photograph (above left) shows a Fahrenheat electric wall heater observed in a remodeled bathroom in a Poughkeepsie NY home and sold by Marley Engineered Products.
If you don't know what kind of heat your building uses, we explain how to figure out the answer at HEATING SYSTEM TYPES.
4/14/14 Bill O'Callaghan said:
While doing a home inspection, I viewed the electric baseboard heaters with a thermal camera. Internal, core temps began around 160* which seems the norm, but when I went into the bathrooms, the shorter registers emitted 225* and were only on for a short period.
I recommended further evaluation, then spent a bunch of time researching the web for a safety document concerning this. I believe the units have been designed with thermal shut-offs since 1983 and should be Listed and labeled since 1995?
What about "Commercial" IE Condo's or apartments? Thanks, Bill O
Reply: Diagnosing an electric baseboard heater that's too hot or won't shut off
Hi Bill, that's an interesting observation giving us some data on IR scans of electric baseboards. I understand that some electric baseboards (such as some Cadet models) indeed have a built-in upper limit switch. But note this quote from the heater's installation notes
More important, you may have saved someone from having a house fire.
One Cadet document I reviewed emphasized that all Cadet baseboard heaters require a thermostat though in a Cadet installation manual from another source I read that wall thermostats are optional. Presumably they meant that if you're not using a wall thermostat you must use a thermostat installed in the baseboard at one of its ends. The company gives these diagnostics for electric baseboards that don't shut off (paraphrasing)
They don't mention a failure of an internal temperature limit as a defect, but that concern does show up in the standard as I will quote.
Standards for Fixed-in-Place Electric Heaters: requirement for a thermal cutoff
Bill UL 1042 20.1 confirms your observation:
The applicable standard for baseboard electric heaters, UL 1042 (1995) is a voluntary one. Thermal cutoffs are discussed on p 31 and 32 of that lengthy document:
A second standard applies to certain other electric heaters: UL 2021 (1997). The US CPSC reported on the hazards of "Fixed Position Electric Heaters" in 2002. - www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/117191/fpheater.pdf That study says that the thermal limiter you describe is included in a "typical heater".
UL Standards Exclusions for Commercial Properties
About an exclusion of applicability of the UL Standard for commercial installations of electric baseboard, I didn't see anything in the UL Standard nor in the US CPSC hazard analysis that would exclude these same heaters from having the required safety features in particular applications such as "Commercial" use or in Condos or Apartments. Furthermore, how would a manufacturer of a particular electric baseboard heater model know the classification of the building into which it is to be installed?
Thermography & Electric Baseboard Heat: detection of abnormal conditions can warn against a building fire
Bill you may not have come across it but over at THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY in a series of articles, we've been working with Paul PRobett from Incodo (New Zealand) to report on what can be useful and what should be viewed with caution when using thermal scanning of any sort.
And I've had my own little excitement: using a little Exergen thermal temperature sensor to look at some aluminum-wired baseboard heaters during a home inspection I found that one heater was much hotter than its brothers. I warned the owner about an aluminum wire overheat and fire risk and was nearly run off the property by the volume of his scoffing. That night the house burned down. Luckily no one was injured.
My view is that we can make some use of temperatures mostly by comparison such as in the case I just described. I suspect that unless we are measuring a black emitting surface our temperature readings are not precise. Your comparison of "much hotter" among some units was the important observation. (Cadetheat has a useful table of wattage output for different baseboard lengths and voltages that may be useful to compare with your field scans.)
More safety inspection points for electric baseboard heat are at ELECTRIC BASEBOARD HEAT SAFETY.
Continue reading at ELECTRIC BASEBOARD FEET NEEDED or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: can electric baseboard heaters be replaced?
Nov 3, 2012) vicci Martinazzi said:
Can this heater be replaced?? I need the same dimensions as above,the box is 33' long, 6 and 7/8" wide and 3and1/8" deep. The in wall heater to be replaced is in a metal box that measures 33 inches long, not feet!! 3 and 1/8 inch deep and 6 and 7/8 inches wide. It is in a 1950's house. Wesix serial number sf681161 1500 W,12.5 amp. Is there a replacement??? firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: Parts for a Wesix 240-V in-wall heater
(Feb 5, 2014) Darrell said:
Hi - I have an older Wesix 240v in-wall electric heater that has a strange copper tube attached to a wire coming out of the fan switch box. I assume it is related to temperature control, but I can't find any info on it. Anyway, the copper tube broke away from the attached wire the other day and left a strong chemical smell in the air that I couldn't identify. It looks as though I could solder it back on the end of the wire, but I'm not sure it would work if the fluid has spilled from the tube. Does anyone have any suggestions on this problem? Thanks.
Darrell, perhaps you could send us some sharp photos - using the CONTACT link found at page top or bottom. I'm not sure, but if what broke was a temperature sensing device the system will not work safely without it.
Questions & answers or comments about types of electric heating systems and electric heat problem diagnosis & repair
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References