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The Right Electricity for your Heating System

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Alright, Lori in Indiana has a question about let’s call this electricity and heating. (chuckles)

    TOM: OK.
    LESLIE: What’s going on, Lori?
    LORI: (chuckles) Well, I’m calling from (AUDIO GAP) and I have the mother of all money pits.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
    LORI: So – hello, so I have a question for the professor.
    TOM: (chuckling) OK.
    LORI: There are wires sticking out of the wall for baseboard heaters.
    TOM: Right.
    LORI: How do I determine if I [should use] (ph) 120 volt or 240 volt?
    TOM: Oh, well, if it’s a baseboard heating unit, it’s going to be 240.
    LORI: Really, it’s that easy?
    TOM: Mm-hmm, yeah. I mean you can’t – it would be unusual to have a 120-volt built-in baseboard heating system. How many wires do you have sticking out?
    LORI: Well, I have a black and a white and a ground and I was told that if it was 240 it would have to be black and white and red.
    TOM: Oh, well, if it’s a black and a white and a ground, it’s not 240. But are you sure it’s for heat?
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And not an outlet?
    LORI: (overlapping voices) Yes, they had eight heaters and yanked them out and threw them away.
    TOM and LESLIE: Hmm.
    TOM: Well, they may have had some old 120 volts but, typically, you need 240 for a baseboard heating system.
    LORI: Alright.
    TOM: Alright?
    LORI: And it’s not possible that they took a 120 and wrapped it around and hotwired it and I’ll burn down my house, is it?
    TOM: No, no.
    LESLIE: (chuckling) No.
    LORI: (chuckling) OK.
    TOM: Not likely. But listen; you should make sure those wires are dead and you should make sure that if they’re tied into a circuit breaker that they’re disconnected for the breaker; they’re not just – the breakers are just turned off but somebody could turn that back on by accident and then all of a sudden you’ve got hot wires.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And they’re sticking out and they’re live.
    TOM: Yeah. You want to make sure they’re completely disconnected from the panel.
    LORI: OK. Thank you so much.
    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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