Baseboard heaters aren’t as popular as the more efficient heat pumps that every homeowner is eyeing. However, if you want better zonal temperature control, you’re better off with a baseboard heater than a central heating system.
That begs the question, can you install baseboard heating yourself, or do you have to get a professional installer?
In this article, we’ll divulge if it is possible to install baseboard heating without professional knowledge. So, continue reading if you’ve been wondering about the feasibility of installing this heating system.
Can I DIY Baseboard Heating?
You can DIY your baseboard heater installation to provide heat in specific rooms or zones where you need flexible temperature settings. Some electrical work will be involved depending on the type of heater, so you should observe safety precautions before attempting a DIY install.
How To Install Baseboard Heating
To install baseboard heating, you’ll need to purchase a baseboard heater, mount it on the wall studs, and connect the unit to your home’s electrical system (or hot water system in the case of hydronic baseboard heaters). The process can be completed in a few hours and doesn’t require special skills—some prior experience with DIY projects and a bit of moxie will suffice.
With proper installation, baseboard heating can provide years of trouble-free operation.
Before doing any electrical work, keep these considerations in mind:
- Turn off the power to the main supply to prevent the risk of electrocution.
- Do not install the heater near flammable liquids, fiberboard, and drapes.
Pick Your Spot Below a Window or Along an Outside Wall
Baseboard heaters are typically installed right underneath the window pane. However, you can install them at the bottom of an outside wall or close to a door. But, unfortunately, drafts and heat loss occur the most in these locations.
Additionally, baseboard heating works under the principle of convection. Hot air naturally rises and distributes throughout the room through convection currents. As such, baseboard heating systems don’t need air fans to circulate warm air.
Mount the Heater in a Horizontal Position
Baseboard heaters must be mounted in a horizontal position parallel to the floor for the best results. While at it, you want to remove any obstructions that might come in between the heater and the wall. You should also remove decorative trims, bumps, and molding to allow the unit to sit flush with the wall.
Ideally, you drill the unit’s mounting holes in the room’s studs.
Not sure how to find them?
Tap the wall lightly with a hammer and listen closely to how it sounds. Hollow spaces make a louder sound, but the noise will be attenuated where studs exist behind the wall. A better solution would be to find a stud finder, an electric or magnetic handheld device.
Electronic stud finders sense changes in wall density, while magnetic stud finders detect the metal nails and screws holding the studs in place.
Insert the Electrical Wires
First, pop open the junction box cover at the back. Depending on the heater model, you should see a grounding screw and four conductors (wires).
Here’s how to wire an electric baseboard heater:
- Connect the main supply ground wire to the heater’s ground screw
- Connect the black heater wires to the black thermostat wires
- Similarly, connect the hot supply wires to the red thermostat wires
- Finally, carefully tuck away all the cables and close the junction box cover
Watch the video below to get a clearer understanding of how to wire a baseboard heater:
Of course, the electrical connections will vary by your heater model. For instance, 240V baseboard heaters have two hot supplies and one ground with no neutral. 120V heaters, on the other hand, have one hot, one neutral, and one ground wire.
Test Your Heater
Lastly, turn your heater on and check whether it works. Sometimes, you’re bound to run into issues, such as failure to turn on and off, weird noises, and inability to get hot. The causes of these problems include damaged thermostats, circuit breaker mismatches, loose supply connections, and faulty wires.
Can I Use PEX Piping?
If you own a hydronic baseboard heater, one of your primary concerns is its compatibility with the existing hot water system. Copper piping is popular, but PEX pipes are a worthy alternative to hydronic heating systems.
You can use PEX piping for baseboard heating. PEX piping is a flexible plastic tubing used in various applications, including plumbing and radiant floor heating. It is resistant to corrosion, which keeps it safe from easy damage.
Unlike copper or metal piping, PEX won’t conduct electricity, adding an extra layer of safety in case the wiring is faulty.
If you’re interested in learning more about hydronic systems, you should check out our guide on the pros and cons of hydronic floor heating.
There you have it! Easy ways to install a baseboard heater and gain control over the temperature in every room. If you’re having challenges with the installation process or need guidance on how to do it right, get in touch with a pro for help.
Best of luck!
- SFGATE: How to Install a Baseboard Heater
- WikiHow: How to Install Baseboard Heating (Electric)
- YouTube: Installing Electric Baseboard Heater. DIY
- YouTube: How to install a Double Pole 240 Volt Baseboard Mount Thermostat
- Family Handyman: What to Know About Types Of Baseboard Heaters
- Lowe’s: Electric Baseboard Heater
- InsectAPedia: Electric Heating Baseboard Installation & Wiring Guide