DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I just moved into a new apartment, and the baseboard heaters in my living room (5 units) didn't seem to be responding to the thermostat on the wall. Specifically, they are always on, despite the thermostat being at 50 degrees and the room temperature at around 65.

I disconnected the thermostat from the wall to discover it's low-voltage (Honeywell). Even with the thermostat completely disconnected, and the red / white wires separate, the heaters continue running.

From what I understand, this low-voltage thermostat must be connected to relay somewhere to power the line-voltage heaters, but there are no relays near my electric panel and I don't see any near the thermostat (the wires go directly into the wall).

What's the best way to figure out what's going on? Is there some way to determine if there's a relay somewhere? Is it possible that relay is broken, so the heaters are always on? I'm at a loss...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,257 Posts
You are correct, there has to be a low voltage relay somewhere that controls the heaters. There is also a transformer required. It's hard to conceal that much equipment. Is there an attic that is accessible? Is there a utility room or common laundry room for all tenants? These relays make noise, can you get permission to actuate some other unit's thermostat off and on while listening for the click it may generate. All of the relays may be in a common junction box somewhere.

The logical location would be where the power wires are accessible such as at the panel or above in an attic. Possibly in a closet in the bedroom. Perhaps check with the previous owner or some of the local service companies that may have worked on the system.

That's all I can think of except maybe call an electrician who has a good tone tracer to see if that can help find the location.

Good luck with the quest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
You are correct, there has to be a low voltage relay somewhere that controls the heaters. There is also a transformer required. It's hard to conceal that much equipment. Is there an attic that is accessible? Is there a utility room or common laundry room for all tenants? These relays make noise, can you get permission to actuate some other unit's thermostat off and on while listening for the click it may generate. All of the relays may be in a common junction box somewhere.

The logical location would be where the power wires are accessible such as at the panel or above in an attic. Possibly in a closet in the bedroom. Perhaps check with the previous owner or some of the local service companies that may have worked on the system.

That's all I can think of except maybe call an electrician who has a good tone tracer to see if that can help find the location.

Good luck with the quest.


This was my assumption – and thank you very much for the tips on how to uncover the location. Also good to know that it's significant equipment. I will get in touch with the previous owner (if possible) and try to figure out where the rest of the gear is. Very helpful, thank you!
 

·
retired framer
Joined
·
44,263 Posts
Did you find small Tstat wires or are they 14 or 12 g.


Do you have a gas fireplace?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
Are your baseboard heaters electric or hot water? If they are electric then you are in the right forum and are asking the right questions.

If they are hot water baseboards then they are probably supposed to be 24V and you don't understand what you've got completely.

Either way, are you sure that the heater is powered up even though the thermostat isn't calling for heat? You saying that the temperature is 65° would usually indicate that the heat is NOT being energized. If you really want 65°, you might really need air conditioning (even though you might think you need heat for some reason).

If you are in an apartment building with other units next to, above, and/or below you that are trying to maintain a temperature higher than 65°, then there's your answer.

Either open your window or flip on your air conditioning.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
447 Posts
My post above reminds me of a story from my job as a HVAC/Refrigeration service tech. Several years ago I got a call to go out to a restaurant with a new walk in refrigerator that we recently installed. The manager was complaining that it was too cold. When I got there it was set to 38°, and it was holding temperature perfectly. I checked everything out but could not find an issue.

About a week later he calls back with the same issue. Another tech goes out and could not find anything wrong either. He figured that the thermostat must be intermittently getting stuck, so he installed a new thermostat.

Another week goes by and they call back again. I go out and for the first time find the cooler actually is too cold. The thermometer was showing 20°. I start checking stuff out and find the refrigeration equipment satisfied and not cooling. I then start looking around and see a bunch of boxes and racks of meat with frost all over them. Upon further investigation I find that some of the stuff in this cooler was frozen solid, while other stuff seemed to be fine.

I talk to the kitchen people and find out that they just got a delivery and all of that stuff came frozen off of the truck. They were stuffing this refrigerator with so much frozen food that it was causing the overall temperature to go down enough to freeze their lettuce for a short period of time.

I talk to the manager and tell him what I found and that there was nothing wrong with his new cooler. He then starts getting angry and yells at me that he just spent a small fortune on this cooler and that he should be able to thaw frozen food in it without a problem. I try to explain that the refrigerator is meant for cooling food, not warming it up and that there isn't much I could do. I suggested that he either prop the door open for a while next time, or put a small space heater in there.

He didn't like those suggestions so he called my boss and yelled at him for a while and told him to never send me there again.

Anyways, I'm betting something similar is going on with Mr. J Hendrix's apartment, only in reverse. There is probably nothing wrong except for he wants his "heat" set to 65°, while everyone around him want's there's set to 75°.

Please come back Mr. Hendrix, and let me know if I was right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Did you find small Tstat wires or are they 14 or 12 g.


Do you have a gas fireplace?

No gas in the building. I found small Tstat wires ... just a red and a white, very small.

I'm also curious what the relay would look like. There's no attic, and there doesn't seem to be anything in the electric panel box. I'm wondering where else would I be able to access the relay, or if maybe it's just in the wall somewhere? (I hope not)
 

·
retired framer
Joined
·
44,263 Posts
No gas in the building. I found small Tstat wires ... just a red and a white, very small.

I'm also curious what the relay would look like. There's no attic, and there doesn't seem to be anything in the electric panel box. I'm wondering where else would I be able to access the relay, or if maybe it's just in the wall somewhere? (I hope not)
Have you looked in the heaters at the wiring . A transformer could be anywhere but the relay would have to be in a panel, box or somewhere Like maybe the end of the heater. :wink2:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Relays need to be accessible.
As I asked before are you certain these are electric?
Yes I'm sure they're electric. There is no gas in the building whatsoever, and there are similar units throughout the condo... all connected to line voltage Tstats though...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,417 Posts
No gas doesn’t mean they aren’t hydronic radiators.
Boilers can run on fuels other then gas, some boilers are even electric.
If this is an electric radiator you’ll have to trace the wiring to see where the relays are.
 

·
retired framer
Joined
·
44,263 Posts

·
retired framer
Joined
·
44,263 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
If nothing else you could fish in a new cable for an inline Tstat.
There are 5 baseboards which are running off the same breaker (a 2-pole 30A) – photo of my panel with the relevant breaker highlighted in red:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2p6aco1j8g0qltk/panel-heater-breaker.jpg?dl=0


The thermostat is on a wall that doesn't have a heater on it. Seems like it might be difficult to fish a wire from around the corner where the heater is to the existing wall box where the Tstat wires come through.
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top