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Baseboard heaters are a common way of heating homes. If you have them in your house, you may be considering either moving them or removing them altogether. They are a staple in older construction and are still used today for their affordability and ease of installation.
Baseboard heaters can be moved or removed. Removing baseboard heaters can be done on your own with basic electrical and plumbing knowledge. Moving baseboard heaters can have limited options, and the difficulty will depend on whether you have an electric heater or a hydronic heater. Moving your baseboard heaters will require professional services.
Understanding a baseboard heater is vital to properly moving or removing them from your home. Let’s learn more about these common appliances.
Removing Baseboard Heaters
There are two kinds of baseboard heaters. You’ll need to know which one you are planning to remove or relocate before you begin.
In both electric and hydronic heaters, aluminum fins are used to surround the heating element and are used to facilitate the heating process. These heaters are generally found under windows and on an outside or “cold’ wall space. As the cold air falls, it is heated underneath the baseboard heater, and then rises into the room as it gets warmer. This repeats until the room or zone reaches the desired temperature.
Electric Baseboard Heaters
Electric heaters are the most basic of baseboard heaters. The metal heating element inside is heated using electricity and is connected to the electrical system of your home. The inside of the electric baseboard heater works similar to that of a space heater except for the aluminum fins and its construction, which allow for cold air to pass through and be heated inside of the unit. When working with an electric baseboard heater, you will need to have some electrical knowledge.
Hydronic Baseboard Heaters
Hydronic or hot water heaters have the same mechanics as electric heaters but are linked to the home’s boiler system. Instead of heating the core with electricity, these heaters work by passing hot water through copper pipes surrounded by the aluminum fins that are that trademark of these heating units.
All of the pipework involved in these heaters runs directly back to the boiler in the home. When working with these types of heaters, you will need to have some plumbing knowledge.
Removing Electric Heaters
- You must shut off the power to the heater from your main circuit breaker before you begin removing the unit. This is a critical step and ensures your safety as well as the safety of the home.
- You will need to access the heater’s junction box. This is where the electrical wires that connect the heater to the home’s electrical are located. The junction box can be found on either the right or the left side of the heater.
- Double-check that you have turned off the power entirely to the electric heater. You can do this by using a tool known as a voltmeter. When testing the voltage, you want to be sure that your voltmeter is registering 0 volts.
- You will need to disconnect the wires from the terminal screws. You can do this by using a screwdriver to remove the terminal screws.
- Locate any screws or bolts that may be holding the heaters in place or attaching it to the wall. Remove screws and bolts with the proper tools.
- Using a putty knife or a small crowbar, work along the top of the heater to pull apart from the wall and use gentle tugging until the heater comes off the wall.
- You will need to cap the otherwise live electrical wires with wire caps.
For a visual demonstration on removing your electric baseboard heaters watch this video.
It is always best to consult a professional electrician if you are unfamiliar with these tools or procedures.
Removing Hydronic Heaters
- You have to shut the power off to the heater from your circuit breaker as well as the boiler. It is essential to wait for the boiler to cool down as well as the water in the heater pipes.
- You have to cut the supply pipes and the return pipes to the boiler. When finished, cap the pipes with pipe caps.
- Remove the baseboard from the wall by removing the screws or bolts holding it in place. You will have to remove the cover to access these screws. Try and leave the heater slightly elevated off the floor.
- Saw through the pipes at both ends of the heater with a pipe saw to remove the heater from the wall. Saw the pipes as close to the floor height as possible and cap them with pipe caps.
It is best to consult a plumber when removing or replacing hydronic baseboard heaters.
Moving Baseboard Heaters
Sometimes, you may want to move your baseboard heaters to a different location. It is important to remember that the placement of your baseboard heaters is an integral part of how the heating system works. They provide the most efficiency on an outside wall and under a window. You may decide to take advantage of the existing electrical and plumbing to not end up with a massive reconstruction project.
Moving Electric Heaters
Moving an electric baseboard heater is a more manageable undertaking than a hydronic heater. If you are trying to move the heater within a few feet of its original location, you can both take advantage of the existing wiring and also maintain the efficiency of the heating system.
You will need to add wiring to the existing electrical system and make sure to create a new junction box. It is best to use an electrician for this project to ensure you are following the proper code and that the reused heater will work properly.
Moving Hydronic Heaters
Your hot water baseboard heaters are a complicated series of piping. To move these heaters, you will need all new return and supply piping as well as the pipe that acts as the heating element. This will require a lot of expertise and minor construction work.
You may find that you will have to open up floors and ceilings. The supplies and pipes needed can be expensive. This job will require a qualified plumber to complete. Moving your hydronic baseboard heaters may not be the best option.
Updating Your Existing Baseboard Heaters
Older homes are the most common place to find baseboard heaters. For this reason, they can be cumbersome and not aesthetically pleasing. They are generally metal and are prone to rust over the years and can be challenging to paint correctly and maintain. They also dent easily over time and depending on how they vent, it can cause your heating system to be less efficient.
If you are considering moving or relocating your existing baseboard heaters for these reasons, there is another option to consider. You can easily update and modernize the look and feel of your baseboard heaters with premade baseboard covers.
These covers come in a variety of styles, colors, and faux wood finishes. They are usually made of high-quality plastics, making them rust-proof, dent-proof, and very easy to clean and maintain. They can also increase the efficiency of your heaters with vents that are more open and pointed upwards to help facilitate the rise of warm air.
Baseboard heater covers are an easy and often more affordable option for updating your baseboard heaters.
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.