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Installing Electric Baseboard Heaters on Drywall, Using a 3-way Switch in place of a Single Pole Switch and Troubleshooting Light Switches Not Working

November 22, 2010

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Bob asks:
I want to install electric baseboard heat in a room. My question is can these units be seated directly on drywall?

Yes you may. However, you need to ensure that you do not place the heater below a receptacle. You need 12 inches of clearance at a minimum. It is also best to place the baseboard heater directly below a window on an outside wall. The rising heat will clash with the cold air near the window causing a natural convection.

Electric baseboard heater can get very hot and you need to respect that. Be sure to keep combustibles away from the heater so that a fire does not start. Often times I’ll go into someone’s home to find curtains, laundry, toys and more too close to the heaters.

Be sure to check out How To Size, Layout and Install Electric Baseboard Heaters for more tips.

Mike Crawford asks:
Can I use extra 3 way dimmer switches in place of 1 way dimmers which I do not have?

You can, but this is not the proper way to do it. When using a 3-way switch in place of a single pole switch and the light is off, you are going to still have a live terminal which could pose a problem. I highly recommend purchasing a single pole dimmer switch at your local hardware or home improvement store. They are less than $20.00 each.

James Miller asks:
Light come on but getting no power to light switches.

I really need more information to be able to help solve this problem. It sounds like the switching is not wired into the circuit. Another possibility is the neutral is being switched instead of the hot wire. Did you install a new light and take apart the connections in the light box? Does the switch control the light?

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One Response to “Installing Electric Baseboard Heaters on Drywall, Using a 3-way Switch in place of a Single Pole Switch and Troubleshooting Light Switches Not Working”

  1. Frank on November 21st, 2011 6:51 am

    I recently purchased a digital thermostat for electric baseboard heat. My question is The thermostat has a load and a line wire and I have been able to determine which is which coming into the wall box however there is also a ground wire coming into the plastic wall box which on my old thermostat was connected to the metal housing of the thermostat. My new thermostat has a plastic housing and as i mentioned the wall box is also plastic I am not sure what to connect the ground to or is it even necessary to connect it to anything and just tuck it neatly into the back of the box.
    Please help as I have not been able to find an answer that I am confident with.

    Thank You.