Hot water baseboard heaters work on the principle that heat rises. That’s why they are buried (installed) deep inside the flooring; at the baseboard level.

Working on convection principle, hot water baseboard heaters perform the heating function noiselessly and safely.

One of the best features of baseboard water heaters is their emergency shut off system that goes off in case they become very hot and turns back on when the temperature has fallen suitably.

Convection system is a long-tested method to heat things up. From water heater to microwaves, many home appliances use convection heating. The water in your boiler tank gets heated just like it is done by using gas, electric, or oil based heating systems, in a different process that is then connected with the plumbing system.

How Do Hot Water Baseboard Heaters Work

Let’s understand how a hot water baseboard heater works. This will help you determine whether it is an appliance you will be interested in purchasing to heat water in your home.

As mentioned above, the cold water is supplied to the boiler tank installed in the utility area to be heated. Once the water is heated, it is pumped with the help of an electrically operated motor pump throughout your home through different systems. The hot water first enters the first radiator in your home, which will be the hottest as well. As series of radiators push the water from one supply point to the point and during this time, the first point get the hottest water, while the last point gets the coolest hot water.

After traveling to the last point, the water travels back to the boiler to get heated again and the cycle is repeated. Hot water baseboard heating is a closed system, which means that all the water within the system, stays inside it only.

However, since most systems that use water as a carrier, tend to develop leaks over a period of time, baseboard water heaters are also prone to small leaks sometimes; which is why they have an in built mechanism for pressure regulation. Anytime there is a leak in the circulation system, the pressure regulator replaces the lost water instantly. However, if there is a significant leak, there will be a sound similar to that of a faucet being open in your house. That sound is that of the water being replaced.

As water expands when heated, it grows in volume and required space to expand. Perhaps that is why, when designing hot water baseboard heaters, the designers provided an expansion device in to them. The expansion device is in the form of a large tank and contains air. Since air can be compressed unlike water, when heated water expands it flows into the tank and air gets compressed. With the help of a PR valve as well, any air that escape out is replaced by water.

The boiler temperature of most hot water baseboard heaters is controlled inside the system by a thermostat, similar to that in other water heaters. Thermostat automatically adjusts the heat depending on the outside and inside temperature. Just like the thermostat adjusts the temperature within the boiler, the loss of heat from the first radiator to the last can also be controlled with the help of a flow control valve that is fixed on every one of the radiators and can be adjusted so that lesser amount of hot water passes through the first radiator. This ensures that excess flow of hot water is controlled and directly sent to the 2nd radiator and so on till the last radiator.

The flow control valve regulates the flow rate of the water and controls the energy that is released by each radiator to ensure equal distribution. However, all this is dependent on the conditions of the room.

Problems Related To Hot Water Baseboard Heaters

Some of the major issues that you can face when using baseboard water heaters are:

1.    Pump failure:  Bearings can fail and pumps can become noisy. Pump seals can also star to leak.
2.    Boiler failure: Can develop leaks leading to wet floors and decay.
3.    Overpressure valve malfunction: Can develop when there is leak at the top of the expansion tank.

Finally, it must be said that hot water baseboard heaters don’t allow you to install central air-conditioning or air filtering systems in the house. However, they provide quiet, clean and effective heating.

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