It’s the time of the year when your home has got too cold, and you notice that there’s a strange, reeking smell that lingers across your room when you switch on your baseboard electric heater.Baseboards often accumulate dust, which can spell trouble for baseboard heat.

Like many of your friends and peers, you may fret and wonder if there’s anything you could do about it.

Well, relax…! That strange smell that you are worried about is primarily because of the dust (or in some cases, oil or mold) that has accumulated over a period on your electric heat strips – usually during the summer when the dirt or grease in the environment may settle in.

It’s something essential that may happen year after year or from one season to the next.

The intensity of the smell is likely to be affected by the amount of dust that has been there.

This may seem obvious that this is something that you need to worry about

This odor may dissipate within a few minutes after the heater is turned on since the residue is burnt off in the initial phase.

But if the stench is overpowering enough, and it does not subside within the next few minutes, or even after switching it on and off a couple of times, it’s time that you perform a thorough check to help resolve this issue.

You may call your service provider to have it checked so that there isn’t a more significant problem at hand.

Alternatively, you may consider taking control of the situation and getting it resolved, depending on how critical your issue is.

Potential Issues With Baseboard Heaters

Apart from the dust and mold issues, there may be a few other things that you might want to consider.

Smell From an Electric Baseboard Heater. Smells from electric baseboard heaters are usually the result of accumulated dust that is being heated.

Image credits: albertgelson – Flickr

The following are some of the most common issues leading to smell from an electric baseboard heater.

Faulty Installation OR Electrical Malfunctions

Often, the baseboard electric heater may not work because the installation has not been done correctly.

One of the common symptoms could be the smell of burning rubber – a hard, nasty smell, which can be poisonous to breathe if you are exposed to it for an extended period.

Any idea why after turning on an electric baseboard heater in my basement it would generate a strong sickly sweet smell?

Image credits: albertgelson – Flickr

Switch off all the electrical units and connect with a heating professional immediately if that happens.

Heat Blockage

There can be instances where the electric baseboard heater is blocked by drapes or pieces of furniture, which can eventually lead to overheating the unit.

Try applying some lubricant on the heating valves inside the baseboard heater – not only to stop the reeking smell but to avoid corrosion inside the pipes and ensure a steady airflow.

Cleaning Issues

To ensure a longer and more sustainable life for your electric baseboard heater, make sure that you give high priority to its cleaning and maintenance.

Remember that without proper sanitation, your heating system may collect soot, smoke, dust, and even hair from the environment, resulting in additional expenses as well as malfunctions, which can consequently lead to a burning smell and other related issues.

If the service seems a bit too expensive or isn’t covered by warranty or insurance, here are a few sets of steps that you may resolve the issue on your own.

Steps To Be Followed

Here are some of the steps that you need to follow:

1.    Turn It On and Off

Switch off your electric heater as soon as you notice the smell. Give yourself at least 20 to minutes to allow the heater to cool off.

2.    Remove The Cover Of your Baseboard Electric Heater

When your electric heater has cooled down, gently remove the cover of your electric heater by unscrewing the screws at the end of it.

In case it snaps off, it is advisable to take it off gently with the help of a screwdriver and place it on the side.

3.    Clean The Dust Or Accumulated Matter On The Heating Element

In a typical setting, as soon as you remove the cover, you’ll be exposed to the heating element. Remove the dust with a vacuum cleaner, an old toothbrush, or a soft cloth.

Avoid using chemicals or abrasives, as this may damage the wires and harm the electric heater permanently or in the longer run.

For the other hard-to-reach areas, it is preferable to use a vacuum with a narrow nozzle to suck the remaining residue without damaging the filaments.

4.    Clean The Cover And Replace It On the Main Device

Before reassembling the cover, make sure that you clean the coat thoroughly.

You may dust it off with a dry, soft cloth and then wipe it with a small, damp towel before reassembling it onto your electric baseboard heater.

Make sure that you give it sufficient time to dry up entirely before affixing it to the board. Screw the edges up again and ensure that the cover is well attached before switching the heater on the back.

5.    Test And Run

When you’re done with the installation, make sure that everything is in place. Turn on the heater and enjoy a fresh breath of the warm and cozy feeling that you’ve always looked for

Watch this video on how to proceed further

Maintaining Your Baseboard Electric Heater

If you want your electric baseboard heater to last for a more extended period (and you certainly would like to do that), ensure that you maintain it regularly.

Perform a regular maintenance check at least once in 6 to 12 months, primarily if your home is in one of those areas which are prone to dust and humidity.

As long as old homes exist, so will baseboard heaters. Baseboard heaters provide a simple and affordable solution for heating an older home

Moreover, if you have pets at home, hair loss by your animal may likely accumulate in the heating element as well.

Make sure you vacuum the areas inside and around your baseboard electric Heater to ensure its sanitation and assurance that it does not reek out burning odor when you need it the most.

Before the winter season, ensure that your heating device is up and running. In case it’s not, do not risk yourself by engineering the heating mechanics on your own.

Give a call to your heating professional to repair the unit. This would help you save a lot of money as they charge you additional money when the time comes.

Finally, ensure that there are no obstructions whatsoever that can block the airflow to ensure smoother operations.

Get A Home Energy Audit Done

While speaking about cleanups and maintenance of your electric baseboard heater, it is also noteworthy that you get your home energy audit done by an expert.

An energy audit is an assessment of your home that takes a look at current energy consumption and then identifies energy efficiency measures that you can conduct to make your baseboard heaters more efficient.

As harsh as it may sound, it is not very difficult to get it done, and it would help you save some amount in the longer run.

In case your house has multiple baseboard electric heaters, such as one which is installed in the bathroom, kitchen living area and bedroom, it’s advisable to manage energy efficiency to keep the temperature in control and energy efficiencies in check.

The energy audit starts with the monitoring of the safety check, for example, whether there is any gas leakage or not, and all the pipes and fittings are in place so that they don’t cause a reek, nor induce any environmental hazard.

The most important part is to check the filters, at least once a month, especially during the winter season when the heaters are extensively used. Also, keep a close check on the gaps, leaks, and drafts.

You might want to use a thermal imaging device to track where the concentration of heat is high.

In case you cannot afford one, use a simple trick: if you have particular corners where there is a high concentration of spiders, the space is likely quite warm, and it may need readjustment.

Finally, patch up any gaps or air leaks. This can be done simply by using a stream of expandable foam or plaster to seal areas that invite a lot of external heat and cold into your house.

Just spray it around to seal all the crevices.

For areas that have external access, such caveats, just ensure that you install some rigid installation, such as a door, to keep cold air at bay during the winters.

Furthermore, check out windows around the edges.

More often, it’s the tiny crevices that allow chilled air into your room during winters, making it a bane for you to stay indoors despite an efficient baseboard electric heater in place.

Seal those up, and it would help you save a lot of cost in the longer run.

Maintenance Options & Tips

The odor or smell from electric baseboard heaters is a common issue and something that shouldn’t cause a lot of concern in a lot of cases.

While there may be a lot of reasons for this to occur, including the dust issue as well as the burnout of the lubricant inside the valves as it heats up, in most cases, it’s the former that is mainly responsible for the concern amongst the dwellers of the household.

Overcoming this is easy. With regular cleanups, maintenance, and servicing, you can get rid of this issue.

However, if the problem persists for a more extended period, let’s say for around an hour, you might want to refer to the user manual, switch off the electric baseboard and contact the relevant service provider to avoid any significant hazard.

Finally, do check on your thermostat as the efficiency of the one installed in your electric baseboard heater.

If you don’t have sophisticated equipment at home, ask a professional whether it’s working fine.

If you have installed a new heater in your place, the thermostat often comes with a 3-5-year replaceable warranty (depending on the company and dealer you have brought it from).

If the temperatures appear to fluctuate a lot despite an efficient thermostat in place, you might want to have it checked.

In the end, managing the smell from electric baseboard heaters is easy. Just make sure that you have everything checked and well maintained, and

I am pretty sure that you’ll be fine.