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When installing the baseboard heater, it’s important to consider when you place it as it will determine the unit’s safety and effectiveness. Unfortunately, there are no universal electrical code regulations about where to mount your baseboard heater. Not to mention that various models and styles of heaters tend to have different spacing requirements. For that reason, it’s critical to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your baseboard model. More importantly, you’ve to ask yourself whether the baseboard heater should touch the floor.
Generally speaking, a baseboard heater may or may not the floor. For instance, some manufacturers recommend that you leave an allowance of at least 0.75” between the device and the floor. On the contrary, other manufacturers advise that you put the baseboard heater at the floor level.
So, which one exactly is it? Should baseboard heaters touch the floor? Well, read on as we take a deeper dive to find out the best place to mount your new baseboard heater!
Why Baseboard heater may or may not touch the floor
Most electric baseboard heaters can be installed on the floor since their design doesn’t bar airflow through the bottom of the device. Typically, the air intake of most heating units is equipped with a guard to prevent the area from coming into contact with the floor. In addition, this design makes it easy to use the baseboard heater to replace a portion of the baseboard trim. That way, you can easily run the baseboard up to the side of your baseboard heaters.
However, if you’re planning to install a thick carpet, the baseboard heater should not touch the floor. This is because the carpet pile might cover the air opening, thus affecting the airflow.
Baseboard heaters that should not touch the floor
Some baseboard heater models are not designed to touch the floor. In that case, the device must have an imposed space added between the device and the floor. In that case, the baseboard heater should leave an allowance of at least ¾” from the floor to increase its efficiency. Specifically, this space will allow cool air to enter through the bottom of the device. The electric baseboard heater will then use electricity to heat the cold air and release it to the room through the gap at the top.
In addition, such units will be more effective in warming the air if they are higher and closer to the source of cold air like windows.
On the downside, some baseboard heaters create potential fire hazards, especially as they get hot while warming your house. So, if you put them on the floor, they can easily start a fire if they’re close to flammable objects. However, leaving a gap between the heater and the floor will prevent the unit’s heat from contacting or reaching flammable floorings.
According to a study evaluating the fire safety of various flooring materials, natural wood flooring has incredible fire resistance. In comparison, carpets made of polyamide or nylon are highly flammable. Moreover, reports show that carpets help to spread flames during a fire. To address this issue, federal regulations require every carpet sold in the United States to pass ‘The Pill Test’.
Recommended baseboard heater height
In most cases, baseboard heater manufacturers don’t specify the maximum installation height for their products. However, most standard baseboard heating units offer the best performance when you install them close to the floor. This is because cold air falls close to the floor, while hot air rises towards the ceiling.
Baseboard heater manufacturer’s clearance requirements
Whether you choose to install your baseboard heater on the floor or not, you must adhere to the manufacturer’s clearance requirements. In general, you should install electric baseboard heaters at least 12” from any combustible material like furniture or drapes. Other baseboard heater clearance requirements you need to consider include;
Flammable materials like furniture and drapes should be kept at least 6” away from each side of the baseboard heater. As mentioned earlier, the ends of most baseboard heaters can touch the baseboard trim. Apart from that, any other item placed above or to the side of the heater should be at least 6” away.
Space in front of the heater
Electric baseboard heaters require a space of about 12” in front of the device. So, if you’re planning to put a chair or couch in front of a standard electric baseboard heater, make sure it’s at least 12 inches (1-foot) away. However, baseboard heaters with fans require much more clearance of more than 3 feet. Putting furniture closer to the heater can significantly affect its performance by obstructing airflow to and from the device, and creating a potential fire hazard.
In addition, if you’re planning to install the heater near a door, make sure its airflow will not be blocked when you fully open the door. Plus, the door should be at least 12” in front of the heater.
What’s the best place to install a baseboard heater?
The best place to install an electric baseboard heater is under the windows. This will allow cold air to enter your house since windows are some of the main openings in any living space. Also, this will make it easy for the device to warm the air before it spreads into other parts of the room.
In addition to choosing the best place for your baseboard heater, there are other factors you need to consider. For instance, prevent furniture and doors from block the heater by observing the clearance requirements we listed above. More importantly, make sure that there is no electrical outlet above your baseboard heater. Here’s why!
Although electrical codes don’t prohibit installing baseboard heaters below power outlets, most manufacturers don’t recommend it. This is because the cord plugged into the wall outlet will drape down onto the heater. Consequently, the produced heat could melt the plastic insulation of the cable, causing a fire hazard and electrical shock. Therefore, the best safety precaution is to avoid installing a baseboard heater under wall outlets.
According to the National Electrical Code, a wall outlet should be installed every 12 ft along the wall. If you need an outlet where you’ll install your baseboard heater, look for a model with an integrated outlet to comply with the National Electrical Code outlet requirements. Alternatively, install 2 shorter baseboard heaters to work around the existing outlet. For instance, you can install two 48” long baseboard heaters on both sides of the outlet, instead of one 96” long unit.
Overall, a baseboard heater can either touch the floor or leave a space from the floor depending on the design. Leaving a space between a baseboard heater and the floor helps to eliminate the risk of a fire hazard. However, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine whether the device should touch the floor or not. More importantly, observe safety precautions like keeping it away from objects that may block its airflow. In addition, vacuum it regularly and repair or replace it with any of the best baseboard heaters once you notice it’s malfunctioning.