The central furnace may be the reigning champion of home heating, but electric baseboard heaters are still a source of effective heating for many homes. When properly installed and cared for, they can provide safe and efficient heat throughout the colder months. As with most other heating systems, electric baseboard heaters rely on good airflow in order to operate properly. Here is what you need to understand about baseboard heaters and their care:
Know the Basics behind Baseboard Airflow
Unlike electric furnaces and other forced air systems, most baseboard heaters don't use fans to control airflow. Instead, baseboard heaters rely on the power of convection. As cool air sinks towards the ground, it enters the baseboard heater through a bottom vent.
A multi-finned heating element warms the air to your desired temperature, causing the air to change density and rise through the top of the baseboard. As warm air flows out of the baseboard, cold air flows into the unit, creating a convection current that circulates heated air throughout the room.
Keep Your Heating Element Clean
As with any other type of heater, it's important to keep the electric baseboard heater free of dust and debris. Dust, dirt, and debris can block air from flowing through the heater fins, resulting in poor heating performance, obnoxious burning odors, and dark stains on the surface of your walls.
Cleaning the electric baseboard heater is a relatively simple affair. After removing the cover and removing any oversized pieces of debris from the unit, vacuum the interior of the unit using a soft brush attachment. Carefully vacuum the front and back of the heating element, making sure not to damage the fins in the process. Afterward, you can wipe off any excess dust you encounter with a damp soft cloth. Allow the unit to dry completely before reinstalling the cover and turning the baseboard heater back on.
You should also make sure that the baseboard heater sits flush against the wall. This way, there's less chance that dust and debris will collect within the space between the wall and the baseboard heater.
Watch the Carpet Clearance
Most experts recommend that your electric baseboard heater sit at least 3/4 inch above the floor to allow air to enter underneath the unit. Maintaining this space is relatively easy with hardwood or vinyl flooring, but carpeted rooms with thick piles can pose a challenge. If necessary, trim away a small area of the carpet at the base of the unit so that air can flow through without being blocked by tall carpeting.
Watch the Drapes and Furniture
It also pays to be careful when drapes and curtains are close to the baseboard heater. If you have drapes over your windows, the bottoms of the drapes should end at least 4 inches above the heater. If you have drapes that run all the way down to the floor, there should be at least 2 inches of clearance between the back of the drapes and the front of the baseboard heater. Maintaining these clearances will help minimize your fire risk while ensuring the unit's airflow remains unobstructed.
The same goes for any furniture or décor that's placed in front of the electric baseboard heater. Sofas, tables, and other types of furniture should be kept at least 6 inches away from the unit to prevent the airflow from being obstructed or interrupted. Keeping furniture away from the unit will also prevent a fire hazard.
It's important to keep the above tips in mind if you plan on using an electric baseboard heater in your home. Not only can these tips help you heat your home more efficiently and effectively, they can also enhance your home's safety by eliminating many potential fire hazards. If you are having trouble with your heater, contact a representative from a company like Feldman Brothers Electrical Supply Co to set up an appointment.