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Baseboard Heating and Electrical Outlet

nycpanycpa Member Posts: 108

I wanted to install hot water baseboard heating to my basement.  I currently have electrical outlets on every wall and maybe even two outlets on some of the walls.  I know that having an outlet on top of baseboard is a fire hazard but how much clearance is code.  Should I have the baseboard 1 ft or 2 ft away from the outlet?  I am referring to horizontal clearance not vertical. 



  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 3,476
    Non issue

    Hot water baseboards do not run anywhere near as hot as there electric counterparts.The water inside will never exceed 200 degrees and generally is under 180. They do not present  fire hazard and I am unaware of any code issues.

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • joseph annonjoseph annon Member Posts: 33
    Outlets and baseboard

    Just did new construction and had to break baseboards up on long runs to accommodate electric code. Can't have outlets above baseboard and can't have floor outlets in front of the baseboard. I would recommend talking to your local electrical inspector about it.

  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,530
    Electric outlets above baseboard.

    I do not see the logic about having something in the code about this. At least with hot water baseboard. In my house, I have two rooms with baseboard. The baseboard goes across the entire width of each room (under the windows) and each room has an electrical outlet a foot or so above the baseboard's top. The baseboard is in the room, not recessed into the wall. The outlets are in the wall with just the front surface projecting slightly into the room. The baseboard water can go up to a nominal 135F when it gets down to 0F outside. And it can go to 142F if the boiler runs up a little more because the reset curve has a +|- 7F slop around the set point. The wiring in the wall is BX (house built in 1950) and the walls are real plaster.

    When the heating job was complete, including putting in that baseboard (the old was only 3 feet, but those rooms were always cold), everything was inspected by three separate inspectors; electrical, fire and safety, building. They never even looked at the baseboard. There is a lot that they did not inspect. One inspector (fire?) asked if I had a CO detector, and I said yes. He did not bother to look at it to see if I was telling the truth, or to check if it had a good battery in it. (I now have 3).
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    HW Baseboards and outlets:

    I'd like to see in the electrical code where that is a requirement. Or is it just some "pet Rule" that the inspector has "because I like to see it that way".

    I have NEVER, ever seen baseboard broken up because of a outlet on a wall. And I go back to when everything was electric baseboard heat.

    If they (the AHJ) is going to say that, he might as well say that you can't have a window over a baseboard or plug because you might hang a curtain on the window and if it hangs down on the baseboard heater of covers the outlet, it might cause a fire.

    Common sense (cents) isn't a monetary value.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,530
    Electrical codes...

    Around here, there is an electrical inspector who is extremely fussy, but hopeless.

    When I had my kitchen remodeled, I got, among other things, all new cabinets. Just under the cabinets above the counters were little quartz-iodide lamps to illuminate the counters. These were 24 volts. The contractor put a big step-down transformer near the main power panel and ran several 24-volt wires to the lamps. The inspector had him tear it all out, saying you cannot run low voltage wiring in the walls. He even cited chapter and verse in the electrical code.

    When the inspector left, I said he must be crazy: I had telephone wire in the wall and that is low voltage. I had thermostat wire in the wall, and that was low voltage. The electrician showed me that chapter and verse in the code, and it had nothing to do with low voltage wiring for low voltage lamps. It had to do with buried low voltage wiring in the ground, such as for swimming pool lighting.

    I asked why he did not file a complaint, since it was so obviously ridiculous. He had to put all 120 volt wiring in, and replace all the lamps with ones with step down transformers in each. And he had to eat the cost because the electrical work was contracted fixed price for the job.

    He said that even if they appealed and won, they would never get another job approved in my town if they did that.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,408
    small minds

    Years ago a friend of mine had his out of work son in law (licensed electrician) install baseboard electric heat in a third floor attic converted to efficiency apartment. The inspector came and nixed the job because an outlet was only 11-1/2" from the end of a baseboard, the outlet was not above the baseboard and because of the configuration of the room the only way to meet that requirement was to eliminate that outlet and put it on an adjacent wall.

    When my friend found out about this be went down to the building department and asked the electrical inspector, in a very load voice, exactly which of the inspectors friends he should hire to do the job while the mayor was standing 10 feet away. The inspector relented but the son in law never did any more work in the city till that inspector was removed from office about a decade later.

    In some cases those that can't do the work get a job inspecting the work and they then take pleasure in torturing the men doing the work just because they can. I will say the overwhelming majority of inspectors do a good honest job and are willing to listen to an installer.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • joseph annonjoseph annon Member Posts: 33

    It is the State of New Mexico electrical inspectors that are requiring the no outlets above or below baseboard.

    Being a plumber I am only working on what the electrical contractor required us to do.

    I agree that it does not make sense to me.

    But he had failed inspection on two different jobs previously.

    As for inspectors here if I can show where I am working from in the code book they will pass the job.

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