You’ll find baseboard heaters in many older homes, and they’re a great tool to heat your home while saving money on your energy bill. However, when you have baseboard heating, you need to understand how it operates and what to do to get the most efficient heat possible. So what are some of the most important things to understand about your baseboard heating system?

Baseboard heating systems are reliable for heating your home using a few integral components. These include the furnace, the pipes, and the baseboards. Knowing how to operate, maintain, and clean the various pieces of your baseboard heater will give you optimal results for years.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about baseboard heating, and I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about it. Keep reading to learn more!

How To Bleed Air From Baseboard Heating System

Bleeding air from a baseboard heating system is simple if you follow these steps:

  1. Locate the valves and release the pressure on the boiler and the baseboard.
  2. For the baseboard, find the bleeder valve and loosen it by hand or with a screwdriver until you bleed all the air out.
  3. You will need to do this to each baseboard in your home and the central boiler that supplies the heaters.

It’s essential to have some tools on hand when you do this to avoid making too big of a mess. Some of the things you’ll need include:

  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • Towels
  • A bucket for excess water

This video from Bootstrappin’ offers some excellent tips for bleeding air from your baseboard heating system:

If you don’t feel comfortable bleeding your baseboard heating, it’s best to ask a heating engineer to do it for you.

How To Drain Water From Baseboard Heating System

To drain water from your baseboard heating system, prepare your boiler ahead of time. Shut the water and power off to avoid being electrocuted or burned.

Then, open the bleeding valves on each baseboard and the water valve on the boiler. You’ll need to use a hose and a bucket to avoid a mess.

Using a standard hose and a large bucket allows you to collect the water so you can dispose of it properly when you’re finished.

How To Thaw Frozen Baseboard Heating Pipes

The best way to thaw frozen baseboard heating pipes is to do it gradually using the heat from your home.

You can do this by using central heating or moving a small space heater into the room. Avoid using an open flame near the pipes, as you could cause damage and put yourself at risk of injury.

You can also use a hair dryer near the pipes for a quick fix, but the best option is to warm your house up slowly.

Frozen baseboard pipes are a nuisance that can cause issues down the road or even right away. Take precautions to prevent them from freezing in the first place!

How To Prevent Baseboard Heating Pipes From Freezing

You can prevent baseboard heating pipes from freezing by following these steps.

To ensure it doesn’t happen, you should prepare your house before the winter by eliminating some common culprits that may cause your pipes to freeze.

Things you can do to prevent your baseboard heating pipes from freezing include:

  • Wrap pipes inside your house with insulation during the colder months.
  • Keep your home relatively warm even if you’re away.
  • Disconnect the garden hose.
  • Shut the water off, but leave faucets open slightly to get rid of extra water.

Why Do I Hear Water in My Baseboard Heating?

You hear water in your baseboard heating system because there may be issues with the water flowing correctly.

In this case, you should ensure that the right amount of air pressure is running through the system and that water is flowing through the pipes properly.

There could also be other problems causing water to make noises in your baseboard heater. However, there are a few common issues, many of which you can fix relatively quickly.

Be sure to keep your baseboards clean and in good overall shape, as this can prevent some of the most common complications from occurring.

Does Baseboard Heat Use Electricity?

Baseboard heat uses electricity. If you’re using an electric baseboard heater, it will require more energy than hydronic systems. However, even baseboard heaters powered by water require some electricity to run.

Electricity is a common way to power nearly any heating system imaginable. You can choose from many types of electric heaters, as I discuss in this comprehensive guide to heating your home with electric heaters.

Using a hydronic baseboard heater requires less electricity than other heaters, so it’s a good option if you’re trying to save on your energy bill.

How Does Oil Baseboard Heat Work?

Oil baseboard heat works by supplying fuel to the fire in the furnace, which is the central heating source for the water that heats the baseboards.

Hot water is pumped through pipes until it reaches the baseboard units, which will heat the individual rooms.

Oil is essential to baseboard heating systems because it supplies the energy that heats the water. If you didn’t heat the water using the oil-burning furnace, you would provide cold water to the baseboards and not get any warm air in the rooms.

Can You Put Cabinets (or Other Furniture) Over Baseboard Heat?

You can put cabinets or other furniture over baseboard heaters. Still, you should ensure ample space for the heat to come out.

Also, you should only cover the baseboard heater partially, as this will not stop the heat from distributing evenly throughout the room.

When you put cabinets and other furniture around baseboard heaters, you should do it with some safety precautions in mind. While it’s fine to have furniture nearby, avoid direct contact with the heater that could present a potential fire hazard.

Some essential thoughts to keep in mind include:

  • If you have upholstered furniture, allow space between the heater and the couch or chair.
  • Place cabinets overhead where the baseboard airflow isn’t blocked.
  • Any wooden furniture you place nearby eventually could experience heat damage, so remember this if you have expensive furniture.

How To Turn Up (or Down) Baseboard Heating

You can turn the baseboard heating up or down using the control valves on the baseboards themselves. Controlling the heat is relatively easy but may vary slightly from one baseboard heating system to another.

You’ll need to locate the valves on your baseboard heating system before adjusting them. After that, you can usually change the valve by hand.

A homeowner undertaking an electric baseboard heater installation
Knowing how to adjust baseboard heating will keep your home comfortable.

Still, in other cases, you may need to use a regular screwdriver or another standard tool to remove the cover.

Once the cover is off, you should be able to turn the valve by hand in the direction you want it to go.

How To Clean Baseboard Heating Units

Cleaning baseboard heating units is an easy way to keep your unit running well for years. Just like it’s essential to clean your water heater to make it last as long as possible, you need to take care of your baseboard heating units so they can operate optimally.

To clean your baseboard heating units, you should do the following:

  1. Shut the heat off.
  2. Remove the panel from the front of the baseboard.
  3. Vacuum the unit using the pipe attachment.
  4. Run a dry towel or a feather duster over the entire baseboard to remove excess dust.
  5. Fix any pieces that look out of place or damaged.

How Often Should I Clean My Baseboard Heating Unit?

You should clean your baseboard heating unit at least once a year.

An electric baseboard heater along a wall joint
Plan to clean your baseboard heater at least once a year or whenever it gets overly dusty.

However, to avoid problems, you can do it more often, including any time you suspect excess dust or dirt around the unit.

You can clean your baseboard heating unit using the steps mentioned in the previous section.

Can You Install Central Air in a House With Baseboard Heating?

You can install central air in a house with baseboard heating.

If your home has baseboard heating, this should allow you to install central air. However, it’s wise to consult a professional to add the system to your house for the best results.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve seen how you can maintain and operate a baseboard heating system, some common issues should make more sense. Once you recognize the fundamental problems with a baseboard heating system, you can optimize its energy efficiency in your home.

Baseboard heating systems are an effective way to heat your home; you can rely on them for years.

Some of the vital things to remember about baseboard heating include the following:

  • Understanding how it works
  • Cleaning the system regularly
  • Making sure that all the parts are in working order

I hope you enjoyed our ultimate guide!


 The Spruce: How to Thaw and Prevent Frozen Water Pipe | SFGate: How to Silence Water Baseboard Heaters |  Pennsylvania State University: Radiant Heating Systems-Baseboards |  YouTube: How to Bleed Air From Baseboards – Hydronic/Base-Ray/Boiler/Burnham | SFGate: How to Drain & Refill a Baseboard Heater System | Hunker: How to Drain Water From a Baseboard Heating System

 YouTube: Ace Hardware: How To Thaw Frozen Pipes – Ace Hardware | YouTube: How To Remove Air From Your Heating System | Bob Vila: Baseboard Heating 101 | Attainable Home: Heating Your Home With Electric Heaters? (Types and How They Work) | Corner 2 Corner: Baseboard Heater Safety Tips | Simplify House: How to Adjust Hot Water Baseboard Heater – Know Step-by-Step Process

 YouTube: Family Handyman: How to Clean Baseboard Heaters | Attainable Home: Battle of the Water Heaters: Who Can Last Longest? (4 Types) | Bell Bros HVAC: Why Adding Central Air to a Baseboard Heated House Is Energy—and Cost—Efficient

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