Common Problems with Baseboard Heaters (and How to Fix Them) (2024)

Common Problems with Baseboard Heaters (and How to Fix Them) (1)

A baseboard heater fits against the wall near the floor, providing heat from the ground up. They are easy to install and can accommodate any living space. Like any heating system, baseboard heaters run into problems from time to time. Use this guide to figure out why your baseboard heater might be having issues.

How Does an Electric Baseboard Heater Work?

An electric baseboard heater uses electricity to heat a space immediately as opposed to a forced-air system with a furnace. Baseboard heating can provide better air quality and is easier to install and maintain than forced-air systems.

An electric baseboard heater works kind of like a toaster. When an electric baseboard heater turns on, an electric current runs through metal fins inside the unit, heating the fins and the surrounding air. Cool air is pulled into the heater as the warm air rises, creating a convection current. Because a baseboard heater doesn’t blow air, it’s quieter and heats more evenly.

Most baseboard heaters are hardwired in, but some units plug into a standard outlet. Likewise, some heaters are wired into a wall-mounted thermostat, while others have their own thermostats on the face of the unit.

The 5 Most Common Electric Baseboard Heating Issues

If your baseboard heater isn’t working, you should check the circuit breaker, the thermostat and the heater itself.Call your local technicianif there are any issues with the electrical components of your unit. In some cases, you may want to consider replacing your baseboard heater.

1. The Baseboard Heater’s Circuit Breaker Trips Instantly

You have a short somewhere in the system if your baseboard heater immediately trips the circuit breaker. You may be able to fix this issue by replacing the fuse in the breaker box. However, you might need to replace wiring or update the circuit breaker. Dealing with electrical components can be risky, so call a technician to inspect these parts of your unit.

If you choose to inspect your heater’s electrical components yourself, you first want to make sure the electricity is off. Turn the electricity off using the circuit breaker in the breaker box. Never assume that a blown fuse or a tripped circuit means there is no electric current.

  • How to inspect your electrical system:Inspect the baseboard heater’s electrical components, along with their wire connections. If you can, follow the wire from the electrical panel to the thermostat and the circuit breaker. If any staples crushed your wires, they could have compromised the wire’s insulation and caused it to overheat. A burnt wire terminal is evidence of a short.
  • How to prolong the life of your electrical system:Make sure the wires are intact and connected to the thermostat. Inspect your baseboard heaters at least once a year to prevent wear and tear damage.

2. The Baseboard Heater Works for a Couple of Minutes Before the Circuit Breaker Trips

If you replace your heater or circuit breaker, you need to adjust your electrical system. Call a technician to inspect your circuit breaker and thermostat.

  • How to inspect your circuit breaker:If your circuit breaker feels hot, check the label to find out the circuit breaker’s total amperage load. Most circuit breakers are either 20-amp or 30-amp for a baseboard heater, depending on the heater’s wattage. Your circuit breaker should have high enough amperage rating to handle the electrical load of the heater as well as anything else on the circuit, such as the room’s wall outlets. If the load rating is sufficient, inspect the system for loose connections.
  • How to fix your circuit breaker:Turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker and wait for it to cool. Once the circuit breaker is cool, replace it with the size listed by the manufacturer.

If your baseboard heater runs for a while then shuts off without tripping the circuit, you may have a defective thermostat. Test it by setting a higher temperature. You will need to replace your thermostat if there are any problems with its wiring or function.

3. The Baseboard Heater Won’tTurn On

If your baseboard heater doesn’t produce heat, inspect the area around them. Make sure you don’t have any furniture or drapes blocking the vents. Check the thermostat to ensure the heat is on and set to the correct temperature.

Common Problems with Baseboard Heaters (and How to Fix Them) (2)
  • How to inspect your ineffective heater:Clear the vents from pieces of furniture or children’s toys. If your heater doesn’t produce heat after a couple of minutes, check the electrical system. Tripped breakers are a common problem with baseboard heaters. Inspect the valves inside the heater. Valves may corrode and stick together without proper lubrication, preventing heat from getting into the room.
  • How to fix the vents and prevent further damage:If an object blocked the vents, be more conscious about keeping objects away from the heater. If it’s an electrical issue, replace the fuse in the breaker box. You should also lubricate the valves into the baseboard heater to prevent corrosion.

4. The Baseboard Heater Won’tTurn Off

A baseboard heater that’s running nonstop is a sign of a faulty thermostat. A malfunctioning thermostat could increase your energy bills. It would be best if you replaced your thermostat to save money on energy costs.

  • How to inspect your thermostat:Make sure the thermostat is at the correct temperature. Lower the temperature and wait for the baseboard heater to turn off. If the heat persists, you might have a blocked contact in your thermostat.
  • How to fix a faulty thermostat:Tapping the thermostat may clear the blocked contact for a temporary fix.You will need to replace the thermostat to make sure the baseboard heater functions properly. Inspect your thermostat often to detect any damage before you have problems with your baseboard heater.

5. The Baseboard Heater Produces a Burning Odor While Running

As the baseboard heater produces heat, you might smell something burning. Often, the smell is from burning lubricant or dust that has collected on the vents. Improper cleaning of your baseboard heater can damage the heater. If it’s an issue with something burning, the baseboard heater could be sending harmful chemicals into the air.

  • How to check your baseboard heater:If you smell an unpleasant odor while your baseboard heater is running, turn off the heater. Wait for the heater to cool, then wipe the vents clean with a damp cloth. Turn the heater back on and call a technician if the smell persists.
  • How to prevent smells from a baseboard heater:Clean your heater after each use to prevent dust buildup. If the smell persists, you might need to replace it. Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is functioning in your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning is unlikely if an electric heater is working properly. However, if a heater is burning chemicals or debris, it could produce carbon monoxide.
Common Problems with Baseboard Heaters (and How to Fix Them) (2024)


Common Problems with Baseboard Heaters (and How to Fix Them)? ›

If your baseboard heater isn't working, you should check the circuit breaker, the thermostat and the heater itself. Call your local technician if there are any issues with the electrical components of your unit. In some cases, you may want to consider replacing your baseboard heater.

Why are some of my baseboard heaters not working? ›

Check for dirt or dust clogging the finned tubing of baseboard heaters that use that component (photo at above-left) or check for air flow blockage at the bottom opening (cool air inflow) and top opening (warm air outflow) at the baseboards if the actual baseboard piping gets hot but not enough heat comes into the room ...

How can I make my baseboard heater work better? ›

Tips for Improving Your Baseboard Heater's Efficiency
  1. Decrease Drafts. If your home is rather drafty, your baseboard heaters may be overcompensating to counteract the cold air that is regularly let in. ...
  2. Adjust Your Thermostat. ...
  3. Clean Baseboard Heaters Regularly. ...
  4. Choose the Right Cover.

Do plumbers fix baseboard heaters? ›

Unusual Baseboard Heater Sounds

Bubbling and gurgling sounds in the system are often associated with air in the lines, which if this turns out to be the case, can often be resolved by an experienced service technician or plumber.

Why are only some of my baseboard heaters working? ›

If your baseboard heater isn't working, you should check the circuit breaker, the thermostat and the heater itself. Call your local technician if there are any issues with the electrical components of your unit. In some cases, you may want to consider replacing your baseboard heater.

Why does my thermostat click but no heat baseboard heater? ›

A clogged filter is probably the most common reason for this problem, so it's a good place to start investigating. Take a look at your filter and, if it's really dirty and clogged, it means there's restricted airflow to your furnace. This may be keeping it from being able to create heat.

Do baseboard heaters need maintenance? ›

Baseboard Heater Maintenance

A clean baseboard heater doesn't just look nicer it also works much more efficiently. More efficiency, means less energy, which means lower bills! Over time, dust, debris and hair can accumulate (especially if you have pets). We recommend cleaning and checking your boiler annually.

Do baseboard heaters wear out? ›

Expected life – According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a cadet-type wall heater or baseboard heater has a 10-15 year expected life. While that is a long time, the NAHB rates radiant ceiling panels with a 40-year life. But beyond what the NAHB says, you should look carefully at the warranty.

What controls baseboard heaters? ›

Energized at 240V in households to maximize heat production, baseboard heaters are commonly controlled by line-voltage thermostats installed in each room or heated area though some can also be controlled by built-in thermostats installed directly into the unit housing.

Do I need an electrician to change a baseboard heater? ›

Install and Connect Electrical Wiring

Unless you already have the correct wiring installed for an existing heater, you'll need to hire a professional electrician. An experienced electrician will be able to verify that the circuit breaker you have is compatible with the energy needs of your heater.

How long is the life expectancy of a baseboard heater? ›

Electric baseboard heaters have an average life expectancy of about 20 years. However, as with most things, they can last much longer with proper maintenance.

Should you leave baseboard heaters on all the time? ›

Many baseboard heating systems are a form of electric heat that operates without ductwork and can be expensive to run. Baseboard heating is often more efficient than radiators, and they are even more efficient when they are run constantly, instead of being turned on and off.

How much is baseboard replacement labor? ›

Labor. The labor cost to install baseboards is around $5 to $7.75 per linear foot. This will take up a vast majority of your overall project cost.

How much does it cost to replace a baseboard heater? ›

A baseboard heater itself can cost between $25 and $250, not including labor. Because this is not DIY-able, you'll need to budget $75 to $250 per hour for installation. to purchase and install a baseboard heater, you should budget $300 to $500 each.

How much does it cost to update baseboard heating? ›

The average cost of electric baseboard heat installation is $725. However, costs could be as low as $200 for simple installations and reach $4,000 in cases where electrical upgrades may be necessary to complete the job.

Why is one of my heating zones not working? ›

Bleed the Radiators

Sometimes, a heating zone will not work properly because water cannot move through the baseboard radiators. This happens when an air bubble blocks the pipes. To help draw out air, locate the bleeder valves on all the radiators in the affected heating zone.

Can baseboard heaters be blocked? ›

Don't Block the Airflow.

But in order for the heater to function properly, you should know that nothing should be placed in front of the heater to block that air flow. Any furniture that may end up being in front of your baseboard heater should be at least 6 inches away.

Why is heat not working in one room? ›

Blocked air vents

The first thing to check when you find you have rooms that aren't heating up enough is to see if the vents for the room are open and clear of obstructions. During annual in heating and cooling, people sometimes may inadvertently block a room vent by moving furniture or other items.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 5761

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Birthday: 1996-12-09

Address: Apt. 141 1406 Mitch Summit, New Teganshire, UT 82655-0699

Phone: +2296092334654

Job: Technology Architect

Hobby: Snowboarding, Scouting, Foreign language learning, Dowsing, Baton twirling, Sculpting, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Francesca Jacobs Ret, I am a innocent, super, beautiful, charming, lucky, gentle, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.