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Gas Space Heater Replacing Electric Baseboard Heat


cushjg
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I am a Realtor in Ottawa, Canada. I recently had a Home Inspector perform an inspection on behalf of a client. This is a multi level row house, actually 5 levels. You come in on the basement/powder room level up a few steps to the living room, then a few more steps to the kitchen/family room and dining room level, then a few more steps to the master bedroom level, then a few more steps to the main bath and two other bedrooms. The whole place used to heated with electric baseboard heat each with its own thermostat. A previous owner took out the baseboard heat in all rooms except the basement/entry level and the two bedrooms on the 5th level. They then installed a gas stove in the living room which heats the 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels simply by "hot air rising". Does this satisfy all codes and construction practices?

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Can each room be heated to 68 degrees (20 degrees C) on the coldest day of the year without using portable space heaters?

Will the choice be leave the door open on the bedrooms and be voyeurs or shall the occupants get some wooly mammoth hides and pursue Eskimo sex with the door closed?

I smell whale oil... do you smell whale oil?

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Can each room be heated to 68 degrees (20 degrees C) on the coldest day of the year without using portable space heaters?

Will the choice be leave the door open on the bedrooms and be voyeurs or shall the occupants get some wooly mammoth hides and pursue Eskimo sex with the door closed?

I smell whale oil... do you smell whale oil?

Your 1st comment - can each room... sounds like some kind of code statement. Is that correct?

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Hi,

It sounds like you're talking about a gas space heater or wall heater. My brother had a home in Connecticut about 30 years ago that was heated with electric baseboard heat and he had one of those at one side of the kitchen/dinette that he used to heat the house during the day. At night when the bedroom doors were closed, it was turned way down to an idle and the electric heaters in the bedrooms were turned on. It worked OK, but during the day - even in the dead of winter - they had to crack a window in the kitchen because it got so hot in there.

We don't see those much out here but we do see gas fireplaces a whole lot. Those are a little bit different in that primary heat radiates through the glass on the face and then convection current flowing in beneath and then around the firebox flows out of the wall above the firebox and adds to the heat in the room. One can heat a house with them in an emergency but they aren't real efficient; and the doors must be left open in every room.

Around here, the builders will sometimes install in-wall electric fan heaters throughout a house and then install a gas fireplace in the living room. It works well to augment the heat in the living room, dining room and kitchen areas that are open to the living room; but, as Chad says, once you close the doors that open to the common area things cool down pretty rapidly, so the stats in the bedrooms kick the bedroom heaters on.

I think it's a little odd that the owner removed the baseboard heaters and stats. It wouldn't really have hurt anything to have left them there. He/she could still have used the stove to heat the house the way it's being heated now; and, should the day come that it's so cold out that relying on that warm air rising just doesn't get it, they could have been turned on.

Fortunately, it's not hard to fix; baseboard heaters and line stats are fairly inexpensive and the wiring is probably still in place; so an electrician could probably reinstall heaters in the bedrooms fairly easily. The question is; was the house modified such that the electrical load on the panel was increased to the point where the owner was faced with the choice of either removing the baseboard heaters or replacing the service panel, which probably would have cost more than installing a gas space heater? If so, reinstalling the baseboard heaters might not be an option now without increasing capacity of the system.

Another question is whether it's even safe to use it with all of the doors to those other areas closed. Those things require an exhaust vent and need a minimum of 50 cubic feet per thousand Btu/Hr that they put out. If they don't have that with the doors of all of the other areas closed, they've got an issue. That's the reason that they also have to be equipped with a thermocouple that will shut them down if the pilot goes out and they have to have an oxygen depletion sensor that will shut them down in the event that they deprive the room of too much oxygen. The inspector should have confirmed all of that during the inspection.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I didn't see anything in the OP that would have made me jump to the conclusion that we're talking about a ventless unit, but those are all valid concerns. It gets pretty damned cold in Ottawa, so I would imagine that they have a code requirement similar to ours that mandates heating for every habitable room. I don't see how a single gas stove would satisfy that requirement for several rooms, let alone several floors.

Tom

It is a row house after all, not an igloo.[:D]

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It's from the NY State Residential Code.

Brad lives in Ontario... Brad does the Eskimo code have a clause like that?

Ontario Building Code says that the heating facility shall be capable of maintaining an indoor air temperature of not less than:

-22 degrees Celsius (72F) in all living spaces,

-22C in unfinished basements and,

-15C (59F) in heated crawlspaces.

As for the whale oil: what we do in the igloo is our business[:P]

-Brad

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It's from the NY State Residential Code.

Brad lives in Ontario... Brad does the Eskimo code have a clause like that?

Ontario Building Code says that the heating facility shall be capable of maintaining an indoor air temperature of not less than:

-22 degrees Celsius (72F) in all living spaces,

-22C in unfinished basements and,

-15C (59F) in heated crawlspaces.

As for the whale oil: what we do in the igloo is our business[:P]

-Brad

Here's an update. I turns out that several years ago the Ontario Province created a program to get Condos off the electrical grid. They offered grants to convert. In order to get the grant the baseboard heaters had to be removed. Options were to install one of these gas heater/furnaces (inexpensive solution) or a full forced air gas furnace (tremendous cost, as you can imagine). This Condo owner opted for the cheaper solution. The big issue was they didn't disconnect nor remove the 20 amp wiring for the baseboard heaters (just the heat unit itself) and some bright light (bad pun) converted some of the 20 amp circuits to receptacles and light fixtures. Not exactly code!!!

Thanks very much for your comments.

This is my first use of the Forum, very good indeed.

BTW it's not that cold up here. Take a look at what's happened in the NE States this year!!!

John

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