We have electric baseboard heat that's about 30-35 years old. Each room has its own unit. We normally keep each unit on 60-62 °F. We only use 3 units: kitchen, living room, and master bedroom.

Last week, during the cold snap, we turn it up to 70 °F in the kitchen, we had a cold morning. Later that night I went into the kitchen and the curtains, the walls and ceiling were covered in soot.

We live in a 55 and older community; we own the unit, but they do the maintenance. When I called them, the first guy found 5 little gnats under the unit cover and said they burned and made the smoke though he wasn't sure. Two days later, the head of maintenance came looked and said he'd get back to me. He called on Friday saying it was a candle.

In the meantime I washed the 1 wall and part of the ceiling but by Friday night it was back. It's in my cabinets, all over the tile floors, that now tracked on to the rug. The ceiling in all these room also has soot. I washed the windows in these rooms because they were also full of soot. My curtains are ruined, they hung over the heater, just to the bottom of the trim of the window. Cutting this short: it's all over, on the door to the closets. We have just lived here a year, so everything is new cabinets and paint.

On Monday I'm calling the manager of the complex. We are breathing this in. By the way the room I do burn a candle is the 1st bath, that ceiling is clean, and the only time I burn a candle in the kitchen is when I'm cooking.

What I'm looking for is proof that the elements in these heaters are burned out, and need to be replaced. Any info a professional can give me on the matter I would appreciate.

We are in a mess: all I do is wash everything down in my kitchen. I don't know how it's in my cabinets. An opinion from an expert would be deeply appreciated. They are trying at all cost to put this on me, so I have to hire an electrical contractor, and buy new elements or heaters.

  • Do you smoke, fry a lot of food, and/or have dogs? Have the heaters been cleaned lately?
    – Tester101
    Mar 14 '15 at 14:11
  • 2
    Sounds like it might have been an oil-filled baseboard and it failed in a manner that is now burning the oil and making soot.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 14 '15 at 14:14

While I have not ben able to find an example of a hardwired baseboard electric heater failing in this manner on a quick search of the web, here's a story about a freestanding but otherwise similar unit making lots of soot. The only way I can envision an electric baseboard making as much soot as you have described (short of filling it with flammables) is if it were both oil-filled, and had failed.

enter image description here http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/551553


I have this problem in many of the 100+ units I own in northern New York, sometimes with soot very dark and looking like there was a fire, sometimes faint. There is nothing in our baseboard electric heaters to burn. We therefore assume the soot is from air born dust cooking off of the heater fins.

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