Electric heat inspection, diagnosis, repair guide for electric baseboards, electric furnaces,

Electric heat inspection, diagnosis, repair guide for electric baseboards, electric furnaces,

Electric Heating System Problem Diagnosis, Inspection, Repair, Maintenance

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

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 .

Electric Heating System Inspection Methods, Diagnosis, Safety, Repairs

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.

Article Contents

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 .

What are the Different Types of Electric Heat in Homes?

    Electric baseboard heat (see our photo above left, and the page top sketch ) is installed on (usually exterior) walls in occupied rooms. The number of linear feet of electric heating baseboard (and some other parameters) determine how many watts of electric heat is provided.

    Electric heating boilers are commonly used as a backup heat source for heat pump systems or for small radiant floor heating systems (such as our Minnesota fiasco radiant floor heat project ).

Carson Dunlop Associates’ sketch (left) illustrates an electric heating boiler used for residential heating systems.

Electric furnaces can provide warm air heat; this Carson Dunlop sketch shows how we figure the equivalent heat between an electric furnace (in watts) and a gas or oil fired heating furnace (in BTUs). Electric convectors with fans such as the ceiling mounted garage heater shown at above right are used most often for irregular use in larger cold spaces such as a garage or workshop.

But also see wall-mounted electric heaters, below. Similar units that use hot water or hydronic systems — hot water heated fan convector heating units — are discussed

at FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS — HYDRONIC COILS. Electric floor-mounted heaters. as this Carson Dunlop sketch shows, an individual electric heater can be mounted right into the floor surface (instead of along a wall). Watch out for kids dropping crayons or things that can catch fire into the grates of heating equipment like this.

As the drawing points out, flush-floor mounted electric heaters are used where heat is needed in front of a sliding door (and where no wall is available to mount a heating baseboard.) Electric toe-kick heaters (kick-space heaters) are mounted in bathrooms and kitchens as this Carson Dunlop sketch shows. We use a kick space heater (which are also available for hot water heating and warm air heating systems) where a room lacks wall area to mount a conventional heat source.

    Wall-mounted electric heaters (usually recessed or flush mounted such as the Cadet electric heater at left; also see Carson Dunlop’s sketch ) are often used in hallways, entrance foyers, and other locations where spot heat is needed.

See Cadet & Encore Heater Recall for a safety recall on this heater type. Electric radiant heat panels have been installed in homes for over 50 years. Here’s a sketch of a typical radiant heat ceiling layout.

Electric radiant heat in ceilings was produced as both wires imbedded in gypsum board (drywall) and as wire panels taped to the upper surface of the ceiling drywall. Electric radiant heating panels are also available that fit perfectly into a suspended ceiling grid. Electric plenum heaters are used as supplemental heat on combination fuel warm air systems such as wood fired furnaces and possibly on warm air systems heated by a heat pump . NIGHT STORAGE HEATERS (separate article) are used as auxiliary heat source and to balance heat in climates where central heating is not usually installed or where supplementary electric heat is required.

    Wesix type Wall & Floor Mounted Electric Heaters. general information We do not have research data on this nor other specific brands of small point-of-use electric heaters (see US CPSC, Consumer Reports. and similar sources). We have read sporadic field reports of Wesix heaters. These electric heaters were made by the Wesix Electric Heater Company [WEH], a California company, chartered originally in 1938 and again in 1942, and headed by Thomas J. Mellon.

    Wesix electric heaters were often installed in bathrooms, in floors as a small fan convector unit, and as electric baseboards, including both 120V and 240V models that included a brass data tag on the bottom of some units. The company also made the Wesix Mark IV ion collector used in researching the effect of ions on microorganisms and other biological materials.

  • Wesix heater product identification & electrical data:

      Wesix DHF-30T In-Wall Fan Forced Electric Heater 3000 W Wesix DHF-20 In-Wall Fan Forced Electric Heater 2000 W Wesix in-floor fan type heaters Wesix 220 VAC 6.8 A, 1500 watts Wesix 120 AC, 15CHM-1-G-29-01

  • Possible Wesix electric heater (and similar product) concerns to be noted by owners or home inspectors:

      overheating covers age and reliability, including loose or corroded connections leading to loss of heat (easily repaired) and burned-out heater element (replace the unit) — neither of these defects are peculiar to this brand nor to a particular model (as reported Inoperative thermostat or controls

  • Electric Baseboard Heat Inspection — home inspector reports abnormally hot electric baseboards

    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)

    1. Heat loss from the room is greater than the baseboard’s output
    2. The baseboard thermostat is defective
    3. The thermostat is not wired correctly
    4. Room temperature is below thermostat set temperature.

    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:

    UL 1042 20.1 A Thermal cutoff shall be secured in place and located so that it will be accessible for replacement without damaging other connections or internal wiring.

    UL 1042 20.2 A thermal cutoff shall open the circuit in the intended manner without causing the short-circuiting of live parts and without causing live parts to become grounded to the enclosure when the heater is connected to a circuit having a voltage in accordance with 33.1.21 and operated in a normal position to cause abnormal heating.

    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

    ELECTRIC HEAT at Inspect A pedia.com — online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

    Electric Heating System Problem Diagnosis, Inspection, Repair, Maintenance

    InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

    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 .

    Electric Heating System Inspection Methods, Diagnosis, Safety, Repairs

    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.

    Electric heat inspection, diagnosis, repair guide for electric baseboards, electric furnaces,

    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.

    Article Contents

    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 .

    What are the Different Types of Electric Heat in Homes?

      Electric baseboard heat (see our photo above left, and the page top sketch ) is installed on (usually exterior) walls in occupied rooms. The number of linear feet of electric heating baseboard (and some other parameters) determine how many watts of electric heat is provided.

      Electric heating boilers are commonly used as a backup heat source for heat pump systems or for small radiant floor heating systems (such as our Minnesota fiasco radiant floor heat project ).

    Carson Dunlop Associates’ sketch (left) illustrates an electric heating boiler used for residential heating systems.

    Electric furnaces can provide warm air heat; this Carson Dunlop sketch shows how we figure the equivalent heat between an electric furnace (in watts) and a gas or oil fired heating furnace (in BTUs). Electric convectors with fans such as the ceiling mounted garage heater shown at above right are used most often for irregular use in larger cold spaces such as a garage or workshop.

    But also see wall-mounted electric heaters, below. Similar units that use hot water or hydronic systems — hot water heated fan convector heating units — are discussed

    at FAN CONVECTOR HEATERS — HYDRONIC COILS. Electric floor-mounted heaters. as this Carson Dunlop sketch shows, an individual electric heater can be mounted right into the floor surface (instead of along a wall). Watch out for kids dropping crayons or things that can catch fire into the grates of heating equipment like this.

    As the drawing points out, flush-floor mounted electric heaters are used where heat is needed in front of a sliding door (and where no wall is available to mount a heating baseboard.) Electric toe-kick heaters (kick-space heaters) are mounted in bathrooms and kitchens as this Carson Dunlop sketch shows. We use a kick space heater (which are also available for hot water heating and warm air heating systems) where a room lacks wall area to mount a conventional heat source.

      Wall-mounted electric heaters (usually recessed or flush mounted such as the Cadet electric heater at left; also see Carson Dunlop’s sketch ) are often used in hallways, entrance foyers, and other locations where spot heat is needed.

    See Cadet & Encore Heater Recall for a safety recall on this heater type. Electric radiant heat panels have been installed in homes for over 50 years. Here’s a sketch of a typical radiant heat ceiling layout.

    Electric radiant heat in ceilings was produced as both wires imbedded in gypsum board (drywall) and as wire panels taped to the upper surface of the ceiling drywall. Electric radiant heating panels are also available that fit perfectly into a suspended ceiling grid. Electric plenum heaters are used as supplemental heat on combination fuel warm air systems such as wood fired furnaces and possibly on warm air systems heated by a heat pump . NIGHT STORAGE HEATERS (separate article) are used as auxiliary heat source and to balance heat in climates where central heating is not usually installed or where supplementary electric heat is required.

      Wesix type Wall & Floor Mounted Electric Heaters. general information We do not have research data on this nor other specific brands of small point-of-use electric heaters (see US CPSC, Consumer Reports. and similar sources). We have read sporadic field reports of Wesix heaters. These electric heaters were made by the Wesix Electric Heater Company [WEH], a California company, chartered originally in 1938 and again in 1942, and headed by Thomas J. Mellon.

      Wesix electric heaters were often installed in bathrooms, in floors as a small fan convector unit, and as electric baseboards, including both 120V and 240V models that included a brass data tag on the bottom of some units. The company also made the Wesix Mark IV ion collector used in researching the effect of ions on microorganisms and other biological materials.

    • Wesix heater product identification & electrical data:

        Wesix DHF-30T In-Wall Fan Forced Electric Heater 3000 W Wesix DHF-20 In-Wall Fan Forced Electric Heater 2000 W Wesix in-floor fan type heaters Wesix 220 VAC 6.8 A, 1500 watts Wesix 120 AC, 15CHM-1-G-29-01

  • Possible Wesix electric heater (and similar product) concerns to be noted by owners or home inspectors:

      overheating covers age and reliability, including loose or corroded connections leading to loss of heat (easily repaired) and burned-out heater element (replace the unit) — neither of these defects are peculiar to this brand nor to a particular model (as reported Inoperative thermostat or controls

  • Electric Baseboard Heat Inspection — home inspector reports abnormally hot electric baseboards

    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)

    1. Heat loss from the room is greater than the baseboard’s output
    2. The baseboard thermostat is defective
    3. The thermostat is not wired correctly
    4. Room temperature is below thermostat set temperature.

    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:

    UL 1042 20.1 A Thermal cutoff shall be secured in place and located so that it will be accessible for replacement without damaging other connections or internal wiring.

    UL 1042 20.2 A thermal cutoff shall open the circuit in the intended manner without causing the short-circuiting of live parts and without causing live parts to become grounded to the enclosure when the heater is connected to a circuit having a voltage in accordance with 33.1.21 and operated in a normal position to cause abnormal heating.

    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

    ELECTRIC HEAT at Inspect A pedia.com — online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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