Baseboard heat covers play 2 important roles in your home. First, they protect your kids and pets from being accidentally burned by the heater. Secondly, they offer a convenient way of upgrading a damaged/ old heater and improving the room’s decor.
Unfortunately, these covers tend to become damaged, rusty, stained, or discolored over time. That should not come as a surprise though, seeing that they’re installed low to the ground. Hence the need to replace them and give your home a fresh, clean look once again!
Besides, this will allow you to clean the heater and improve its efficiency. But, how do you replace old baseboard heater covers? Do you even have the DIY skills needed to install baseboard heater covers in the right order?
Well, if not…here’s how you do it!
Steps of Replacing Baseboard Heat Covers
1. Measure for length & layout
To ensure the replacement process is successful, there are 2 things you should know. One, the type of your baseboard heater, is it electric or hydroponic? Second, what are the dimensions of the existing cover? This is because there are different types and sizes available.
With that in mind, you’ve to determine the dimensions of the existing cover first. Otherwise, you’ll end up buying a replacement that doesn’t fit in the heater. In essence, that will include measuring its length as well as depth.
Also, measure from the wall’s edge to the tabs under the cover to get the exact width.
Before you take the measurements, remove the front cover and end caps from the old one. Then measure the distance between the top of the skirting board and the bottom of the heater. In most cases, standard replacement measures between 5 to 6.8 inches.
That aside, check the distance from the front of the heater to the back panel. This is usually 3” or less for standard units. Lastly, measure the distance from the top of the skirting board to the floor. That distance is usually 7” or more.
2. Buy a New Cover According to the Measurement
Once you’ve taken all the measurements, go ahead and buy a new baseboard heater cover. Just make sure it’s the right size and compatible with your heating unit. If possible, choose something in a similar dimension to your old one.
Note that covers are available in different patterns, styles, and materials. On the same note, some packages don’t include end caps, so you’d have to buy them separately. Whatever the case, choose a product that meets most of your decorative needs.
3. Cut the Size if Needed (Optional)
Sometimes you can end up buying something that’s too long for your current heater. Similarly, the heater is too long for the cover, forcing you to install multiple pieces jointed. In both scenarios, you’ll need to cut down the covers to get the right size.
So here’s how to cut baseboard heater covers to the perfect size.
The process may vary depending on the type of cover you’re installing. For instance, if you’re dealing with a steel cover, you can use a jigsaw. Alternatively, you can use sheet metal snips, heavy scissors, or carpet shears.
Also, you’ll need proper safety equipment like gloves and goggles.
Either way, make sure you apply the correct measurements. Better still, mark them with a permanent marker and add 1” to the measured length. Finally, if the cover has sharp edges, make sure you file or sand them down before installation.
4. Remove the Old Cover
Again this will depend on the type of baseboard heater you’re dealing with. If you’ve got a hydronic heating unit, here’s how to remove baseboard heater covers!
You can cut the screws behind it with a reciprocating saw. Next, unsnap and remove the front baffle. And disconnect the clips attaching the cover to the fins. Once you do that, it’ll simply lift away. Installing the replacement will be a reverse of this process.
Removing covers from electric heaters, on the other hand, is quite simple. You just need to unsnap the ends from the heating unit’s casing and you’re good to go. Even better, the ideal replacement easily snaps into place.
Regardless of the heater type you’re working on, start by removing the end caps. Doing so will make it easier to remove the remaining parts of the old one.
5. Discard the Backplate
Most covers either snap or slide onto the existing backplate fixed on the wall behind the heater. This makes the installation process easier. For instance, it eliminates the need to re-screw the new cover or remove the heater. Instead, you just need to remove the old kit and replace it with a new one.
However, that will not always be the case. For instance, the existing backplate may not be compatible with the new heater cover. In that case, you have to remove the backplate as well. To accomplish that, cut the screws or nails holding the backplate to the wall with a reciprocating saw.
Then manually remove the metal hangers and damper at the top of the heater cover. Finally, discard the backplate from behind the heating element.
Remember, backplates may contain sharp edges. For that, it’s important to wear gloves when discarding them for safety purposes.
6. Clean the Heater
After removing the cover and backplate, this is a great time to clean the heating unit. Pass a baseboard vacuum cleaner over the heating element while it’s still exposed. This will help you to get rid of the accumulated dirt, dust, pet hair, and debris.
7. Install a New Backplate
Slip a new backplate behind the baseboard heater and install the support hangers. Once you’ve done that, screw the backplate to the wall.
Make sure the plate is screwed into the studs for a tight hold. Moreover, that will prevent the heater from pulling away or damaging the wall.
8. Attach the New Baseboard Cover
Attach the damper into the new backplate and slide on the end caps. Next, put the new heater front cover into place and snap to the hangers.
Lastly, close the end-cap flaps on both ends of the cover and the replacement process is complete! So that’s how to install baseboard heater covers.
Overall, replacing baseboard heater covers is a simple task. Even better, the process requires minimal time and tools. However, there are some safety precautions you should take during the process. For instance, always turn off the heater’s circuit breaker before you start working.
Also, check if the end caps and the cover have adequately snapped into place after installation. This will ensure that it’s aligned properly. Thus allowing heat to flow properly through the cover’s perforations.