I have a "finished" room in my basement that is maybe 10' x 16'. It has a baseboard heater that is perhaps 10-12' running along one wall. My problem is that right now the room's temperature will not rise above 60 degrees. I'm asking for help in diagnosing why.

Specifically, I'm wondering how to know if my baseboard heater is malfunctioning.

Here are some possibly-helpful bits of info - please let me know what else would be useful.

  • the rest of the basement is unfinished, and that baseboard heater is the only one on the basement zone
  • the supply and return pipes into the baseboard heater are very hot to the touch, and I can feel some heat coming from the baseboard heater
  • My zone valve control (a Taco ZVC403) has indicator lights that indicate that the thermostat is calling for heat and that the zone valve is fully open
  • Previously, I have had that room as warm as 68 degrees (I don't recall trying to heat it warmer). I don't recall the last time I heated it above 60 degrees, but it may well have been before winter.
  • The basement walls are uninsulated; two of the "finished" room's walls are these bare, uninsulated walls.

My theory is simply that because it's cold outside right now (I live in Maine), I am losing a lot of heat through the exterior walls (and to the rest of the basement), and 60 degrees happens to be the most that the small heater is capable of heating that room to. But I'd like to be able to rule out a malfunctioning baseboard.

  • 1
    A 10' heater is adequate size for that room... if it was insulated. As it is, it's trying to heat the entire basement and just can't keep up with the cold weather. IMHO of course.
    – bcworkz
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 21:15
  • @bcworkz - thanks, yes, that is my thinking as well Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 2:09

1 Answer 1


If the pipe is very hot going in and out of the baseboard then its probably not a problem with the boiler. You can try turning the water temperature up on the boiler. They normally go up to 200 but i would not go higher than 180 for efficiency. Every boiler is a little different on how to do this. Also if you have exposed pipes or radiators it should be lower to avoid burns

It is most likely something in that basement that changed letting in more cold air or its just being extra cold outside.

  • Also check fins and area under baseboards to make they are not clogged
    – Justin K
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 21:34
  • I can't think of anything that has changed in the basement, and I suspect it's simply that it's colder outside Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 2:08
  • Looks at a/c condenser lines going outside, drier vents, old windows. On a bright day go in the basement and look for daylight coming through cracks. Not having insulation is bad but a air leak is 10x worse and 10x cheaper and easier to fix
    – Justin K
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 2:22

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