Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems

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Hot water baseboard heating is the most common home heating method. The hydronic baseboard heaters are of a low-profile design and thin enough to fit around the wall. Luckily, they occupy minimal space.

On the other hand, they are long enough to create a wider heating surface area. However, like other electronic devices, they sometimes fail. Today, you’ll learn hot water baseboard heating problems and how to fix them.

Hot water baseboard heating system maintenance is cheap, hence affordable to most families.

Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems

Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems
Shower head

Why Homeowners Choose Hot Water Baseboard Heating

  • The system doesn’t circulate dust and pollen around the house.
  • They are energy efficient.
  • They don’t have moving parts hence reduced noise.
  • They heat steadily and uniformly.

Hydronic Baseboard Heater Components

A hot water baseboard heating system has several components. Take a look at various components;

  • The boiler – contains elements that heat the water. However, some systems may not use electricity as a heating method. Instead, they may use gas or other means.
  • Circulator pump – pumps heated water from the boiler to the pipe system.
  • Piping – is copper or aluminium tubing that water flows through to circulate heat.
  • Metal fins – are fixed around the metallic pipes to absorb heat and transfer it to the surrounding air.
  • Thermostat – controls the temperature by switching on or off the system once the set temperature is achieved.
Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems
Hot shower

How Hot Water Baseboard Heater Works

Once the water is heated inside the boiler, it’s pumped to the pipes by the circulator pump. The piping is aluminium tubing that runs along the wall or the floor surface.

The metallic pipes are equipped with small Aluminium or iron fins that absorb heat and transfer it to the surrounding air.

There are air vents on the baseboard heater base that allow cold air in. Air later passes around the metal fins and gets heated. Once heated, it becomes less dense and floats along the house roof. Once it cools, it falls and gets reheated.

This mechanism creates a cycle inside the room to maintain temperature.

The hot water baseboard heater has a thermostat that records the temperature. When the set temperature is reached, it switches off the system.

Read: Hot water baseboard heating system maintenance

Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems
Hot water

Which Are Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems?

Hydronic baseboard heaters have some problems despite the crucial task of gracing our winter seasons. If not well maintained, they can be stressful.

Without further ado, let’s dive in and learn these problems;

1. Hot and Cold Spots

This problem may not be within the hydronic baseboard heater but its environment. It happens when furniture, toys, or other objects block air vents. Cold air is blocked from getting inside, or the warm air is blocked from circulating.

2. Irregular Temperatures Within the Room

A faulty thermostat causes the problem.  If the thermostat keeps on resetting, it will irregularly switch on or off the system. The result is fluctuating temperatures within the room.

3. Smoke, Soot, or Burning Smell

The hydronic baseboard heaters have air vents at the bottom. Secondly, they are installed within the floor surface. Unfortunately, the floor is a pathway for dust, grime, and debris blown by the air from outside.

As that’s the case, this dust settles between the metal fins, and when heated, they emit smoke and a bad odor.

Read: Baseboard heater covers

Hot Water Baseboard Heating Problems
Hot water

4. Extreme Noise

Although the devices are believed to operate with minimal noise, they can release extreme noise when not maintained. The possible noise sources are bent fins, banging water pipes when pressure builds up, and hydronic air locks causing bubbling sound.

5. Baseboard Heater Not Heating

You may turn the device on at times and notice it’s not heating the house. The possible cause is poor installation, blocked air vents, or leaking water pipes.

Ensure it’s at least one inch above the floor or carpet to avoid blocking air vents when installing the device. On the other hand, baseboard heaters are believed to work efficiently when installed at the bottom of the wall.

Consider a bottom location if your heater is installed at the top or center.

Secondly, regularly inspect air vents for blockage. The ducts may get debris from the circulating air.

Third, inspect any leaking joints, especially if the water heats but the room doesn’t get hot.

Read: Professional baseboard heater cleaning

6. Hydronic Air Locks

Hydronic air locks happen when the air inside the water pipes forms bubbles and block water from flowing. As a result, the room turns cold.

Hydronic airlocks are annoying because you’ll regularly have to bleed your heater.

7. The System Fails to Turn On or Off

A faulty thermostat causes failure to turn on or off.  The automatic thermostats sometimes tend to reset and take inappropriate temperature readings. When it happens, the system automatic switching on/off feature fails.

Secondly, it may be caused by a shortened circuit which mostly happens due to moisture. It can be worse if the device has been off for an extended period.

8. The Piping Freezing and Cracking

If the system stays off for an extended period, the pipe tubing may freeze and crack. The pipes leak hot water that damages the floor or other components when turned on. Secondly, the room may not heat due to leakages.

9. Pipes Blockage and Rusting

With time, the metal pipes may rust. Secondly, calcium builds up inside, reducing the device’s functionality. You need to flush your hydronic baseboard heater regularly.

10. Circulating Pump Failure

Due to exposure to high temperatures, the circulating pump usually fails. You need to regularly lubricate the pump for smooth running.

FAQs on Baseboard Heating

How Do You Adjust a Baseboard Heater Valve?

If the valve has a knob, turn it clockwise to increase water flow or counter-clockwise to reduce water flow. If it doesn’t have a knob, you may use a wrench.

What Are the Symptoms of Air in a Hot Water Heating System?

You’ll hear gurgling or bubbling noise from the heater. If the air builds up exceeds, water may not circulate and the room turns cool.

Does Baseboard Heating Need Maintenance?

Baseboard heaters need regular cleaning and maintenance. Carry out all the maintenance and observe safety precautions. Believe me you’ll never experience hot water baseboard heating problems. 

Read: Low cost heating options