How to Clean Baseboard Heaters: (Easy Steps)

A baseboard heater is a household appliance that warms a home. Dust, on the other hand, is an inevitable component of air that obscures the normal working of a baseboard heater. It’s an enormous problem for homes, especially those without a forced-air furnace system fitted with an air filter.

In homes heated by electric or hot water/steam baseboard heaters, dust that gathers on the radiator fins inside the casing of the heaters leads to reduced efficiency of the entire appliance. This problem is rather common in older homes with gaps around baseboards, windows, doors, and pipes where dust can travel freely through the home.

Baseboard heaters provide a less visually interruptive form of heating and are energy efficient. A high-wattage baseboard heater provides heat sufficient for large rooms and the converse is true.

The weight of baseboard heaters is relative to the materials of their construction: some models are light while others are heavy. A standard heater has a 2001 heating capacity and a thermal cut-off to prevent overheating, hence blockage of the airway.

 They have built-in thermostats, which transfer heat by convection currents. The air circulating is not visible to the naked eye. Nonetheless, the heaters are constantly operating, a current of air is constantly circulating cool air at the floor level being drawn through the bottom of the heater, past the radiating fins, and out the top of the heater casing.

But when the dust settles on the radiator fins, it reduces this efficient heat transfer. The baseboard heater must now be cleaned to enable heating a room quickly and lower electricity bills.

We remove the ‘dust and dirt’ obstacle, by employing an effective way of cleaning baseboard heaters. The cleaning procedure you will follow will be determined by whether the heater is electric or hydronic.

Electric baseboard heater types produce heat when an electrical current flowing through the metal fins runs through the length of the heater while hydronic baseboard heater types produce heat when copper pipes carrying hot water or steam heat the metal fins and are also called hot water/steam radiators.


How to Clean Baseboard Heaters

Equipment/Tools

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Work gloves
  • Needle-nose pliers

Materials

  • Rust remover
  • High heat silicone sealant
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Aluminum tape
  • Heat resistant spray foam insulation
  • High heat silicone sealant

These are the procedures

Lower the temperature

This you can achieve by turning the thermostat to a very low setting. For electric baseboard heaters, consider switching off the circuit breaker. For hydronic baseboard heaters, consider shutting off the water valve to stop heat flow through hot water/steam radiators.

Also, before you proceed ensure that the heater has cooled as the pipes and fins can get hot. It is at this point that you will remove the faceplate from the heater. This is hassle-free as it involves pulling the cover upward and lifting it off the mounting groove in which it fits.

Cleaning the fins

 You will use the vacuum’s crevice tool or dusting attachment. Vacuum the unit with care not to bend any metal fins. In the cleaning process, ensure to allocate most of your attention between the fins as it is what accounts for the unit’s efficiency.

If you accidentally bend any fins, gently straighten them with the needle-nose pliers. Application of the rust remover goes a long way in clearing the fins of any rust. Any other remaining dirt could be wiped by hand with a slightly damp microfiber cloth.

Sealing pipe gaps with heat-resistant spray foam insulation

It is important to fill such gaps as it is between them that dust settles. Heat-resistant spray foam insulation is well-stocked in home improvement stores.

High heat silicone sealant fills smaller openings. When applying the sealant ensure the unit is cool, to avoid shrinking and warping. Remember to wear gloves when handling any of these products. Reinstall the cover by attaching the front cover to the tabs, tilting the bottom, and clicking it in.

Extra dusting

The fourth step is an extra dusting precaution which involves sealing gaps along with the baseboard molding under each heater with aluminum foil tape. Use small pieces of tape as they are easy to work with placing each piece as far back as possible.

This you do so that it will not be seen when you replace the heater cover. Also, you can easily remove the tape if it becomes necessary.

Conclusion

For efficient operation of baseboard heaters, clean them as frequently as possible. Clean heaters use up less energy so keeping up their maintenance will most certainly save you money.

The area around baseboard heaters should also be kept clean as any dust and dirt can be drawn into the unit on air currents. Make sure the unit circulates air efficiently by leaving space between it and any furniture, curtains, or other nearby items. Never allow the electrical cords in lamps and other appliances to dangle over heaters as the heat may damage the cords.

Marcus Reynolds
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