3

I own a home heated with the wall mounted wall heaters that need to be cleaned every year. The way it's recommended to clean them is just simply remove the cover and vacuum out to the insides, if not blow out with compressed air. This is already been done last year at the beginning of the heat season, and it's time again. The initial startup of them always has their accustomed smell of burning off whatever remains on the elements after cleaning, which can still leave a bit of a stink initially. Some of them still have a smell even though they have been cleanedenter image description here

This is a picture of perhaps the worst one, since it's got what looks to be soot coming out of the heater portion of it. This is one, as was all of them were cleaned just prior to this showing up, with compressed air and a vacuum to keep the dust from flying everywhere which work pretty good, all contained within a cardboard box cut out.

My question is, is there a way to clean these after I remove the heater unit from the wall sleeve which is very easy to do, and disconnect from the power, better than simply blowing air through them at the most? Is there a solution of water and something that I can literally wash them in to get them virtually clean as possible? Of course I would allow them to dry before reinstalling and turning the power back on them, but it seems these things provide a little bit more smell than what's necessary, and since this has been the case for the past 2 years since we have owned the house and not knowing what situation the prior owner had, I would like to clean them in a way they will no longer give out any odor at least for a season. Replacement for all of them in the house would be a costly proposition, so I really don't want to just simply buy new ones at about a $120 to $200 a piece, for the 9 or 10 I have in the house.

12-26 EDIT

This question stems from the spray that is available as a electrical contact cleaner or electrical cleaner of some sort. I was looking to use a larger volume to use to allow flooding of the areas needing cleaning

The parts I am only interested in cleaning are the coils at the least, including the fan area, but not the motor, at the most. If it was deemed plausible to clean the way I hope, the rheostat and fan motor would be protected from the process. I am aware of problems caused by water or a liquid being trapped in such places. My lack of concern may or may not be warranted about the rust that would form on the coils and perhaps the connections to the coils. It will only be a one time wetting, whatever the solution is that may be used, preferably something that will not cause rusting.

9
  • Is that a 120v heater? Dec 26 '20 at 6:27
  • Yes they are all of them, some are 1500W and a few are 750W
    – Jack
    Dec 26 '20 at 6:44
  • The smell comes from dust and dirt on the inside of the unit not from dust and dirt from the louvers on the cover. Dec 26 '20 at 11:41
  • @TedMittelstaedt I a totally aware of that. The discoloration is a symptom at the least. In the question I ask how to clean the inside using other means than compressed air and a vacuum. I will clarify the question a bit better.
    – Jack
    Dec 26 '20 at 17:10
  • Electric heaters are cheap (to buy not run), with 2000W Cadet baseboard heaters running around $50, so I would not install any $200 heaters. Certainly $2000 spent on resistive electric heaters is good money thrown after bad; they are dreadfully inefficient, and $2000 would make a pretty good start on a heat pump system, which will cost 1/3 as much to run, and provide A/C too! If you get >$100 electric bills in winter, seriously evaluate that. Dec 26 '20 at 20:27
1

I have the same problem. What I noticed is that debris gets trapped in the heating grill and even with air and suction its too wedged to be removed.

What may help is to use a long bottle brush before air and vacuum.

The only issue you may have with washing the heater would be it rusting. Depending on the metal there is an reaction called "flash rusting" which happens to certain metals that gets wet.

I believe if you work the brush into the heater grate and blow with compressed air you will have removed any bug carcasses, leaves, webs, etc. that ignite when left behind.

2
  • The parts I am only interested in cleaning are the coils at the least, including the fan area, but not the motor, at the most. If it was deemed plausible to clean the way I hope, the rheostat and fan motor would be protected from the process. I am aware of problems caused by water or a liquid being trapped in such places. My lack of concern may or may not be warranted about the rust that would form on the coils and perhaps the connections to the coils. It will only be a one time wetting, whatever the solution is that may be used, preferably something that will not cause rusting.
    – Jack
    Dec 26 '20 at 19:05
  • @Jack- if washing it is the way to proceed it may be wise to wrap tin foil around the motor and other delicate components. I just wanted you to be aware of the rust issue. Honestly don't think it will affect the heating coils.
    – ojait
    Dec 26 '20 at 21:36
1

The recommended way is better than using another way to clean this type of heater.

Or you can try both of them, suck it with vacuum first then blow the rest.

The soot part of black could be some part of your heater burned up, either the plastic part or just another dirt.

The other way to clean up is removing your heater completely and try to disassemble it and after that, you can clean each part perfectly. (careful with the cable line, make sure it is disconnected both Live and Neutral)

The water type of cleaning process is not so good with the electrical device because it tends to leave the water in it and make it worse.

Edit answer from edited question:

  • For coil and rheostat : i always use rubbing alcohol or IPA (isopropyl alcohol) other than that i use contact cleaner because it is made for electrical.
  • The fan : same as coil and rheostat but i won't touch the inside of fan (the coil of fan) because I'm afraid if there is any residue left in the motor it could burn the motor.

Let it dry after cleaning with alcohol or contact cleaner.

8
  • I added more info to my question, but some of the things you recommend have already been done. The only thing I haven't used is a vent brush as suggested by another post. I can see the elements when it is disassembled, although I did not disassemble any... other than removing the outer grill, to do the blowing/vacuum cleaning. I know the anatomy of the heaters from removing some and relocating some during a renovation.
    – Jack
    Dec 26 '20 at 19:21
  • adding my answer for your edited questions 🙂. i hope that will clear your question. Dec 27 '20 at 2:42
  • I would be concerned about using alcohol, but if there is no reason for it, that is something I can put into a flat pan and set the heater in so the fan motor and rheostat are above it all since the fan shroud and the elements are on the back side. I did not think of alcohol, nice tip, but I would be concerned if even a drop got into the motor windings since they are coated with shellac or they were at one time. Maybe a newer version of insulation is used on the windings nowadays?
    – Jack
    Dec 27 '20 at 3:05
  • Another thought, since IPA is a dilute of alcohol (I think), the water used for the dilution is not a concern for what rust it may cause?
    – Jack
    Dec 27 '20 at 3:09
  • IPA is dilute yes, but you can get 99% IPA which is only left you with 1% of water. That's why i suggest to let it dry after you swipes it. Motor winding is coated with enameled like, and it doesn't affect with alcohol (i try this before :D). It wouldn't gives you rust problem if you get 99% alcohol, buy it from chemical shop or pharmacy (i believe the most popular brand is Merck for best IPA) Dec 27 '20 at 3:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.