My Baseboard Heater Turns On By Itself – Why And What To Do?

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Baseboard heaters are those that are mounted to the walls of your house. They are easy to install and are safer than regular heaters. When malfunctions occur, you can be under stress, especially when you are living in colder regions. In line with this, we have searched for the best troubleshooting tips and causes as to why your heater is turning on by itself.

Usually, when a baseboard heater starts turning on by itself, there might be a problem with your thermostat or with the electrical system. To troubleshoot this, you must check the thermostat or your electrical system, and if you find that the problem is quite complex and you can't do it on your own, call an electrician to check your wiring or the manufacturer. 

Fixing a baseboard heater can be complicated, especially when you are dealing with electrical wiring. We have researched about this to help you fix your heater and find out why it has been facing issues in the first place.

White steel panel heating radiator in the room, Why Does A Baseboard Heater Turn On By Itself?

Why Does A Baseboard Heater Turn On By Itself?

Baseboard heaters have been a staple in every household, especially houses located in colder areas. This is often compared to Cove heaters as the latter is bulkier and requires high maintenance unlike the former.

The same goes for heaters with forced-air systems.  But just like any regular heaters, baseboard heaters are also susceptible to malfunctions every now and then.

Whenever your baseboard heaters start to turn on by themselves, regardless of whether you set it on a timer or not, the common cause of that is a shorting in the wiring. There may also be something wrong with your thermostat. 

You might also want to check your circuit breaker, because most of the time, this is usually the main problem.

What To Do When Baseboard Heaters Turn On Spontaneously 

Having a heater problem is a hassle that unfortunately, you can't avoid. To fix your baseboard heaters from turning on by themselves, you can resort to doing the following:

Contact the manufacturer of your baseboard heater

When having a problem with any appliances that you purchased, the first thing that would pop up as a solution would be to call the manufacturer of the appliance and help in shedding light on the problem. The manufacturer most likely has examined the items that they produce which will make it easier for you.

Warranties are also a big help when problems like this occur so you should make the most of it. Usually, for baseboard heaters, warranties last up to 1 year to 5 years depending on the brand.

Check your circuit breaker and electrical wiring

In instances where you will be required to check your wiring, the first thing that you should do is check your breaker. You will notice firsthand when there is a problem with your breaker because there will be an instance where your circuit trip immediately. 

If the breaker starts to become hot immediately after it trips, then there must be a short circuit somewhere.

If this is the case for you, the only way to solve the problem is to replace your wirings with a new and preferably durable one. You can also opt to change the fuse if you want to be more thorough. If you want to examine it yourself first, before consulting a technician, then you can do the following:

  1. Turn off the electricity by switching off the breaker box. 
  2. Follow the wiring from the electrical panel to the heater's thermostat.
  3. Look for issues that might cause overheating of the wires.
  4. If you found the problem, call a technician and make sure that the wires are intact.

Check the thermostat of your baseboard heater

Checking the thermostat is second to checking to breaker if you did not see a problem with the latter. The problem with the wiring between the thermostat and the breaker occurs when, upon checking the breaker, it trips just after turning the circuit breaker on and before the heater's thermostat is on.

If this is the case, you should check if there are burnt wiring, frayed areas, or any other signs of damage.

If the breaker stays on but the heater is not working properly, then you can deduce that the problem lies in the thermostat, heating element, or limit switch. To check the wires individually, you can use a multi-meter, or you can do the following:

  1. Turn off the main power.
  2. Make sure to inspect the label and check the circuit breaker's total amperage load.
  3.  Upon checking, if the circuit breakers are below 20-amp to 30-amp, proceed to check the wall outlet.
  4. If you see the damage, then you should call a technician to check the outlets thoroughly.
  5. The worst case is you end up replacing your circuit breaker.

Check out this digital multi-meter at Amazon.


However, if the problem lies in the thermostat itself, without having anything to do with the breaker, then you should do the following:

  1. Turn your baseboard heater off first and let it cool.
  2. Make sure that the thermostat is at the correct temperature.
  3. Make sure that there is a blockage in the thermostat and clean the blockage.
  4. The worst case would be changing your thermostat if the damage is too severe and not safe.

Call a professional electrician if the problem is too complex

If upon checking your breaker or your thermostat, you feel like the problem is too complex for you, then you should not hesitate and call your electrician immediately. After all, safety should be your priority.

You can also check out this blog post on "Can you leave baseboard heaters on when not home?" 

Different Kinds of Baseboard heaters

Different Kinds of Baseboard heaters - Protective radiator grille built into the floor for heating panoramic windows.

To properly troubleshoot your baseboard heaters, you need to find out what kind of heater you have at your home. Below are the kinds of baseboard heaters and their functions.

  • Convection baseboard heaters: These are heaters that draw in the cool air that it collects on the floor and warm it over, using an electrically heated fin. This is the most common and is usually hardwired into your home's electrical system.
  • Hydronic baseboard heaters: this is a heater that uses a reservoir of heated fluids and is known to be more energy-efficient than that a convection heater.
  • Electric baseboard heaters: This heater is usually located on the lower side of the wall and provides heat through electric resistance.

Check out this electric baseboard heater at Amazon.


Pros and Cons of Baseboard Heaters

Pros and Cons of Baseboard Heaters - A steel panel heating radiator is placed under the windowsil

Having a baseboard heater at home can both be a blessing and a curse, especially when they start to malfunction. Below is a list of pros and cons to help you weigh the necessity of baseboard heaters.


  • It is quieter than other heaters as You'll only be hearing minimal sound when it starts to warm up.
  • The zone heating feature on baseboard heaters allows the family to set different heating temperatures within the house.
  • It is easier to install.
  • It is energy efficient and can help you save money.
  • Depending on the brand, it is usually made of high-quality material which makes it durable.


  • It can take up valuable space in your house.
  • You need to be careful around it.
  • Although it can be energy efficient, installing it might cost you more.
  • The thermostat can become faulty and might produce inconsistent heat in the long run.

Commons Problems with Baseboard Heaters

Commons Problems with Baseboard Heaters - Modern white electric heater with electronic thermostat fitted in a room with yellow wall, wooden floor and white baseboard.

By this time, you probably already know that baseboard heaters are also prone to malfunctions in the long run.

If you plan to buy a new baseboard heater, you might want to consider knowing more about what common problems they have for you to weigh in on what is best for you. Below are lists of common problems that baseboard heaters have.

  • The circuit breaker trips off instantly. When this happens, the best way to mitigate it before calling your electrician is to check the wirings and cut off the power. 
  • Baseboard heater won't turn on or off. This usually happens when your thermostat is faulty, or the heater needs some cleaning.
  • Baseboard heater producing a burning smell. This is common for a newly purchased heater. But if this occurs in the long run, you should consider cleaning it because there might be too much dirt and lubricant build-up inside your heater.
  • The baseboard heater is turned on but produces zero heat. If this occurs, you need to check the surrounding of your heater for possible blockage.

Check out this insightful post on "Should baseboard heaters touch the floor?" to know more.  


Conclusion - White heating radiator in the room,

There are different kinds of baseboard heaters that you need to consider. Bottom line is, when it starts to malfunction, you must first check your circuit breaker, then the wirings, then the thermostat, then the inside of the heater to see if there is ample amount of build-up.

Remember to call a professional such as a technician in cases wherein electricity is involved.

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