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  1. #11
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    I think they sell tracers at Lowes and Home Depot, but if it didn't work through the walls, etc, I don't know if you could return it, even if it was still in like new condition. The relay can not be installed behind sheet rock or otherwise sealed in, by NEC code. Normally it would be in line with the 240 volt conductors from the panel, to save wire, but it may have been placed in a crawl space or attic, or behind an access panel in a closet to keep it out of sight. Can you look at the stat wires and see if they go up or down? Just to be sure, if you remove the stat and cap off each wire, does the heater keep heating?
    "Lead by Example"

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    I have a couple of feelers out in the hope that I can borrow a wire tracer, although following the cable from the garage would be difficult, if not impossible, since the likely path in the wall is covered with insulation, plastic sheeting, and peg board panels. If the relay, for some obscure reason, is in there, would the tracer indicate it? If the wire is clumped with other wires that appear above the studs, they lead to the basement over an open stairway going down which would require a scaffold arrangement and then a ladder on that in order to reach them. I think the best I could hope for would be connecting the tracer to the wire removed from the breaker and hoping it would pick up a signal amid a bunch of wires in the basement. Can the tracer's signal be heard through insulation batts? Is that a realistic approach or would I have to follow the wire along from near the breaker?

    The basement ceiling is the likely location that the wire runs through and would involve removing more insulation to locate. If what I mentioned earlier about how to use the wire tracer is not possible, it seems I'll need to do a more drastic ripping out of insulation to find the relay. It has occurred to me that I haven't seen where the wiring for lights and outlets enter that room, either. (They are connected to a different breaker.) There's no attic or access panel. From when I was testing the stat by replacing it with one that I knew worked, I recall the wires going down. Interestingly, the heat in that room is now at a reasonable temperature and I'm afraid to touch it (or even the breaker to connect the tracer, for that matter). Is it possible that inadvertently exercising the breaker did the trick? Do you think it's generally a good practice to do that on all the breakers? Even with the heat behaving, I want to find that relay.

  3. #13
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    Aug 2008
    Location
    Midwest
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    What floor is the heater on?
    What level is the garage on?

    Some tracers will go through sheetrock and insulation.

    The relay can fail closed and you have heat all the time even without a stat.
    The relay can fail open, and you will have no heat.
    The relay can fail intermittently, either open or closed, and the stat won't be able to control it, but cycling the stat or the breaker may free it up.

    If the heater is overheating with the stat at a minimum setting, and you turn off p0wer, remove stat and do not jumper wires, turn p0werback on. If heat comes on, you have a defective relay or shorted stat wires.
    If the heat does not come back on, it is unlikely to be the wire, as a short is unlikely to be reset by cycling p0wer on 24 vac.

    It is a mercury stat. It is almost impossible for them to fail closed. They must be plumb. The wires must be connected to 4 and 5 or W and R. If the wall is cold, the holes for the wire must be caulked or puttied to prevent cold drafts on the stat.

    Breakers and relays do not need to be cycled and it may shorten the life of the breakers.
    Last edited by ZZZ; 01-28-2011 at 01:37 PM.
    "Lead by Example"

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    The house is at different levels. The basement is between the heater's floor and the garage, with the basement floor about 5' lower than the other two. The breaker panel is at the far end of the garage so that, combined with the length of the basement, it's about 55' from the floor the heater is on.

    In your explanation about how to test when the heater is overheating, what is meant by "do not 'jumper' wires?"

    Thank you for taking so much time to help me with this.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    Quote Originally Posted by coblas View Post
    The wire from the breaker with the problem heat goes into the box but doesn't connect to a relay. That's the problem--I can't locate that relay with or without a junction box. The 8 relays do correspond to 8 stats.

    Is the thermostat with the heaters in question ,part of this group of 8 thermostats ?



    There's one other relay attached to a junction box at the far end of the basement (over 50' from the breaker panel and other relays), but it doesn't appear to have anything to do with the room with the heat problem, which is nearby. It is connected to a different room.

    How do you know this isn't the mysterious relay? Have you tried to disconnect the relay to see which heater is affected ?
    Very confusing
    Last edited by canuk; 01-28-2011 at 06:19 PM.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  6. #16
    Join Date
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    Quote Originally Posted by coblas View Post
    I have a couple of feelers out in the hope that I can borrow a wire tracer, although following the cable from the garage would be difficult, if not impossible, since the likely path in the wall is covered with insulation, plastic sheeting, and peg board panels. If the relay, for some obscure reason, is in there, would the tracer indicate it?
    No !
    All the tracer will do is indicate the path the circuit runs. It doesn't detrmine what type or even care what type of device is in the path.


    If the wire is clumped with other wires that appear above the studs, they lead to the basement over an open stairway going down which would require a scaffold arrangement and then a ladder on that in order to reach them. I think the best I could hope for would be connecting the tracer to the wire removed from the breaker and hoping it would pick up a signal amid a bunch of wires in the basement. Can the tracer's signal be heard through insulation batts? Is that a realistic approach or would I have to follow the wire along from near the breaker?


    The basement ceiling is the likely location that the wire runs through and would involve removing more insulation to locate. If what I mentioned earlier about how to use the wire tracer is not possible, it seems I'll need to do a more drastic ripping out of insulation to find the relay. It has occurred to me that I haven't seen where the wiring for lights and outlets enter that room, either. (They are connected to a different breaker.) There's no attic or access panel. From when I was testing the stat by replacing it with one that I knew worked, I recall the wires going down. Interestingly, the heat in that room is now at a reasonable temperature and I'm afraid to touch it (or even the breaker to connect the tracer, for that matter). Is it possible that inadvertently exercising the breaker did the trick? Do you think it's generally a good practice to do that on all the breakers? Even with the heat behaving, I want to find that relay.
    There are two types of tracers that work similarily in that an electromagnetic tone is generated through the conductors and is received by a probe.

    The type that uses the battery p0wered tone generator requires the electrical circuit to be disconnected for obvious safety reasons. This type of tracer may or may not be p0werful enough to use to pick up the tone due to the mass of the wall and insulation. --- depends of the unit and it's quality. This type is usually used for tracing voice-data-video ( VDV ).

    The other type plugs into the *live* circuit. The electromagnetic tone is more intense and depending on the unit can penetrate up to a thickness of 4 feet.
    Last edited by canuk; 01-28-2011 at 06:58 PM.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    Unless I'm even more confused than I think I am, it doesn't sound as though a wire tracer will be much help.

    The thermostat with the heaters in question isn't part of the 8 thermostats.

    If that separate relay is the mysterious relay, then I still have to find another one. There has been no problem with the heat in the room I believe this one connects to. All of the wiring goes in the appropriate direction and the junction box is about 5' from that room. The room is next to the one with the problem, on the same floor. And you think you're confused?! Whew!

  8. #18
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    Quote Originally Posted by coblas View Post
    Unless I'm even more confused than I think I am, it doesn't sound as though a wire tracer will be much help.

    The thermostat with the heaters in question isn't part of the 8 thermostats.

    If that separate relay is the mysterious relay, then I still have to find another one. There has been no problem with the heat in the room I believe this one connects to. All of the wiring goes in the appropriate direction and the junction box is about 5' from that room. The room is next to the one with the problem, on the same floor. And you think you're confused?! Whew!
    Well then , short of tearing open ceilings and walls --- I would consider abandoning the existing wiring and running a new feed from the breaker panel and use a line voltage thermostat for that room.

    Choice is yours.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  9. #19
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    I plan to operate on the basement ceiling insulation big time before resorting to new wiring. As I mentioned, I don't know where the other wiring to the problem room is, either. Thank you for your help.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: How can I locate an electric heat relay?

    Originally Posted by coblas
    The thermostat with the heaters in question isn't part of the 8 thermostats.

    If that separate relay is the mysterious relay, then I still have to find another one. There has been no problem with the heat in the room I believe this one connects to. All of the wiring goes in the appropriate direction and the junction box is about 5' from that room. The room is next to the one with the problem, on the same floor.
    Is this room part of the group of 8 ?
    If so ,then it shouldn't have 2 relays in circuit unless it's switching 2 loads.
    Try disconnecting this stand alone relay to see what happens to which heater(s).


    Quote Originally Posted by coblas View Post
    I plan to operate on the basement ceiling insulation big time before resorting to new wiring. As I mentioned, I don't know where the other wiring to the problem room is, either. Thank you for your help.
    If you're 100% certain the relay isn't located in the baseboard heater or the mysterious stand alone relay isn't the one ---- then I don't know what else to say other than rip out walls and ceilings.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

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