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Testing a Ceiling Mounted Electric Heater

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How To Test a Heater and Electrical Wiring: Possible Electrical Circuit Wiring Problem, This unit has heating elements which should not produce an open reading when checking for resistance and continuity.

TestingĀ  Ceiling Heater Circuit Components

Electrical Question: My Nutone #157 surface mount ceiling heater quit one day.

  • I took down the unit (used a coat hanger to allow the unit to hang from ceiling while checking it).
  • Removed the two wire nuts, probed the house wires with my voltmeter, found there was voltage of: 13v.
  • I thought the 20+ year old heater was bad so I bought a new unit.

The electrical wiring connections were easy:

  • Black on black, white on white, an easy fix.

I wired the new heater, it won’t come on either.
I’ve checked the house wiring and it shows 13 amps (he means volts).

I don’t get it.
I think I didn’t check the old unit for ohms,but today I checked both the old and new units for continuity.
They BOTH show open circuits.

This electrical question came from: Dennis, a Handyman from Dallas, Texas.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Dennis.

How To Test a Heater and Electrical Wiring

  1. Make sure of the way you are testing the heater.
  2. This unit has heating elements which should not produce an open reading when checking for resistance and continuity.
  3. In order to get an accurate resistance reading, the heat coils should be tested when the unit is not connected to the house wiring.
  4. Because the heating unit was not working, the circuit should be checked up at the junction box.
  5. Due to the high amount of electricity this heater requires, there is a high probability that the wall switch may need to be replaced.
  6. Testing the wall switch will reveal if the switch is faulty or not.

Do not use a tester while the circuit is on unless you fully understand what you are doing and the functions of the test equipment. These electrical components can be safely tested for fault while the circuit is off.

The heating elements will show resistance and should not show give a full open reading.

Possible Electrical Circuit Wiring Problem

  • Low Voltage Readings
    • If the wall switch is not the problem then there may be a problem with the electrical circuit, which would explain the low voltage reading of 13 volts.
  1. Electric heating units place a high load on the electric circuit and the neutral wire connections and splices often produce problems.
  2. Inspect all the electrical wiring of this circuit paying close attention to the white neutral wires.
  3. Burnt or damaged wiring will require repairs that produce clean solid connections that are tight and spliced properly.

More about Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring

For more information about Troubleshooting

  • Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring

  • Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods
    used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.

Using Electrical Testers and Voltage Meters

Understanding Digital Volt Meters

When working on home electrical wiring using voltage meter can play an important part in electrical safety.
Electrical testers and voltage meters enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
Types of Electrical Testers

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