Electric Hydronic Baseboard Heaters are an efficient, cost-effective home heating system. They work by running water or some fluid through copper pipes within the home. In each heating space, there exists a radiator where the pipe is surrounded by fins, similar in appearance to a grate. That setting is inside of a metal cover which may include a thermostat. The thermostat initiates and ends the action of the system based on the temperature of each heating space. An electric heating element is used to raise the temperature of the water. In a non-electric system, a furnace is usually present to heat water. The fins draw up cool air which is heated by the pipe and then expelled through a vent, helping to heat the area. The water travels through the system and is returned to the furnace to be reheated. A simple guide to the action of an electric baseboard heater can be found here.
Thermostat failure can inhibit the baseboard heating system from working. As we saw earlier, this device is able to start and stop the heater based on desired vs. actual temperatures. A problem in the circulation pump would allow the heating of the water, but no circulation throughout the system. This causes an increase in temperature, which the heater regulates by turning off. An expansion tank can be inappropriately filled, either with too much water or too little. An easy test is to tap the side of the tank and listen for the sound of fullness or hollowness.
Sometimes air gets trapped in the hot water lines. This causes sounds through the length of the pipes and reduced efficiency. A knocking or banging sound may develop for a few reasons. One cause for it could be improperly installed or damaged fins. The system may also make unwanted noise when the installation fails to account for copper expansion. Because the pipes expand when hot, they may grow significantly. When there is no extra room along the length of the system, bowing-out of the pipe can occur.
Depending on the problem, some handy users may be able to diagnose and fix small problems, however, most issues would be safer and better done by a professional. Such a device, that involves high-pressure hot water and electrical elements, is best handled by those who have specialised knowledge and tools.
You should seek professional help for annual inspection and maintenance. This should include cleaning of the air ports, oiling the motor, testing the thermostat, draining the expansion tank, checking for leaks, checking the pressure valve, and cleaning the stack and smoke pipes.
Small maintenance tasks that the homeowner can do in order to keep the system running properly include replacing a radiator face-plate cover when the old one is damaged or dinged. Replacements can easily fit over the unit without tools. One should also routinely vacuum around the fins to remove trapped dirt and pet hair to improve the efficiency of the system. Closing vents during the summer will prevent dust from settling on the fins. It is also important to see that the area below and above the baseboard heater are clear of items which can impede efficient heating as well.
Electric hydronic baseboard heaters are commonly used to heat homes. These systems use the heat of radiating water to safely and efficiently create heat. Like any complex home device, these have their issues and specific manner of care, but are, for many, the preferred type of heating. A shopper who wants reliability, safety, and efficiency would likely opt for an electric hydronic baseboard heater. A guide to buying, including the top-rated heaters, can be found in our best electric hydronic baseboard heaters review.