Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

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freelancer
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Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:55 pm

Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by freelancer » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:19 pm

We hired an electrical company to install a new circuit in our condo. The company had told us that they would make a small hole in the wall to wire the circuit. The electrician instead made three holes in the wall and one in the ceiling without asking us first. Our condo building was built in 1960 and has electrically heated ceilings where the heating element is embedded in the ceiling sheetrock. He damaged the element somewhere and the heating stopped working.


The company sent another electrician who poked around the ceiling hole that the previous guy had made and found two breaks in the element that he fixed but the heating still doesn't work. He gave up and the company is offering to install (for free) a "Cadet heater" (presumably this one: https://cadetheat.com/wall-heaters/Energy_Plus) to replace the ceiling heat.

Should we accept this offer or are there better electric heating solutions that we insist they install?

Mister A
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by Mister A » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:38 pm

Do you want a Cadet heater?

I assume since it's embedded, the ceiling is actually plaster and will be an adventure to patch, and they don't want to own up to that.

If you've ruled out the possibility that he clipped a wire in the wall, I would start by asking a third-party heating company that knows radiant heat to estimate costs to #1) investigate, find, and repair the defect with full restoration of the ceiling to the original finish, and #2) to install a new electrical radiant heating system in the ceiling. Both estimates should include the cost of either fixing the ceiling to original finish or redoing it. (I've never heard of #1 happening in real life, so my guess is that it'd be a replacement job. It's possible it could be done by layering a new system over the existing ceiling and you'd never notice, if the ceiling is high enough.)

This may be expensive and not a route you actually want to take. I'm not suggesting to be cruel to the first electrician, but you didn't approve the work and should use the full cost of getting you back to your status quo as a starting point for negotiating, since they're probably offering what's most convenient for them. Baseboard/wall heating actually might be an improvement over radiant ceiling heating in the long run, but there's also an aesthetic question there.
Last edited by Mister A on Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.

123
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by 123 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:44 pm

You might want to check with your condo association to see if this problem (or something similar) has come up before. Seems like this kind of heat would have been an original part of the building. They might be able to identify a reliable repair service that you could work with based on the experience of other unit owners.

If you need to have the ceiling and system completely replaced that is going to be expensive and inconvenient.
Last edited by 123 on Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

dalbright
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by dalbright » Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:46 pm

There is a company still around called panelectric heat that makes a heated drywall panel that may be similar to what you had and could be a repair option.

ralph124cf
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by ralph124cf » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:10 pm

Mister A wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:38 pm
Do you want a Cadet heater?

I assume since it's embedded, the ceiling is actually plaster and will be an adventure to patch, and they don't want to own up to that.

If you've ruled out the possibility that he clipped a wire in the wall, I would start by asking a third-party heating company that knows radiant heat to estimate costs to #1) investigate, find, and repair the defect with full restoration of the ceiling to the original finish, and #2) to install a new electrical radiant heating system in the ceiling. Both estimates should include the cost of either fixing the ceiling to original finish or redoing it. (I've never heard of #1 happening in real life, so my guess is that it'd be a replacement job. It's possible it could be done by layering a new system over the existing ceiling and you'd never notice, if the ceiling is high enough.)

This may be expensive and not a route you actually want to take. I'm not suggesting to be cruel to the first electrician, but you didn't approve the work and should use the full cost of getting you back to your status quo as a starting point for negotiating, since they're probably offering what's most convenient for them. Baseboard/wall heating actually might be an improvement over radiant ceiling heating in the long run, but there's also an aesthetic question there.
This ceiling is unlikely to be plaster. Drywall cielings with electric heating was common in places like the Northwest where electricity prices were very low.

I have had this exact problem on two occasions. On both occasions the tech come out, attached a transformer to the thermostat wires, and sent a brief surge thru the ceiling, which located the break. He then wired in a short patch, and dabbed some drywall compound on the ceiling to approximate the existing popcorn ceiling. Total time less than 60 minutes per visit.

Ralph

CurlyDave
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:47 pm

1. That Cadet heater looks like a very poor substitute for ceiling radiant heating.

2. It looks to me like the thermostat on a Cadet is mounted on the heater -- the worst possible place for it to actually work as intended.

3. The Cadet will prevent placing furniture too close to it, the ceiling heat has no similar limitations.

4. The Cadet is UGLY, the ceiling heat is invisible.

5. I would never accept a Cadet heater, but if feel you must, insist that they install it with an external thermostat, at lease 15 feet from the heater, and that they install it on exactly the same circuit as the ceiling heat. These two things will substantial increase the cost of the installation, but may make it marginally acceptable.

6. All surfaces must be returned to original or new and uniform condition.

The Cadet heaters cost about $100, a proper repair or your original is many thousands.

Topic Author
freelancer
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by freelancer » Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:07 am

CurlyDave wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:47 pm

5. I would never accept a Cadet heater, but if feel you must, insist that they install it with an external thermostat, at lease 15 feet from the heater, and that they install it on exactly the same circuit as the ceiling heat. These two things will substantial increase the cost of the installation, but may make it marginally acceptable.

6. All surfaces must be returned to original or new and uniform condition.

The Cadet heaters cost about $100, a proper repair or your original is many thousands.
Are there any alternatives to the cadet heater that we could request? What is the benefit of having it on the same circuit as the original?

Thanks for your reply.

dekecarver
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by dekecarver » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:58 am

ralph124cf wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:10 pm
Mister A wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:38 pm
Do you want a Cadet heater?

I assume since it's embedded, the ceiling is actually plaster and will be an adventure to patch, and they don't want to own up to that.

If you've ruled out the possibility that he clipped a wire in the wall, I would start by asking a third-party heating company that knows radiant heat to estimate costs to #1) investigate, find, and repair the defect with full restoration of the ceiling to the original finish, and #2) to install a new electrical radiant heating system in the ceiling. Both estimates should include the cost of either fixing the ceiling to original finish or redoing it. (I've never heard of #1 happening in real life, so my guess is that it'd be a replacement job. It's possible it could be done by layering a new system over the existing ceiling and you'd never notice, if the ceiling is high enough.)

This may be expensive and not a route you actually want to take. I'm not suggesting to be cruel to the first electrician, but you didn't approve the work and should use the full cost of getting you back to your status quo as a starting point for negotiating, since they're probably offering what's most convenient for them. Baseboard/wall heating actually might be an improvement over radiant ceiling heating in the long run, but there's also an aesthetic question there.
This ceiling is unlikely to be plaster. Drywall cielings with electric heating was common in places like the Northwest where electricity prices were very low.

I have had this exact problem on two occasions. On both occasions the tech come out, attached a transformer to the thermostat wires, and sent a brief surge thru the ceiling, which located the break. He then wired in a short patch, and dabbed some drywall compound on the ceiling to approximate the existing popcorn ceiling. Total time less than 60 minutes per visit.

Ralph
sounds like the best option.

CurlyDave
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by CurlyDave » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:41 pm

freelancer wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:07 am
CurlyDave wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:47 pm

5. I would never accept a Cadet heater, but if feel you must, insist that they install it with an external thermostat, at lease 15 feet from the heater, and that they install it on exactly the same circuit as the ceiling heat. These two things will substantial increase the cost of the installation, but may make it marginally acceptable.

6. All surfaces must be returned to original or new and uniform condition.

The Cadet heaters cost about $100, a proper repair or your original is many thousands.
Are there any alternatives to the cadet heater that we could request? What is the benefit of having it on the same circuit as the original?

Thanks for your reply.
What is the benefit of having it on the same circuit as the original?

The Quick & Dirty way of installing the Cadet heater would be to wire it to the same circuit as your existing wall plugs. This will be a 120 Volt circuit. The problem with this is that heaters are high-current devices. Depending on the age of your building the entire wall plug circuit will either be a 20 Amp (newer) or 15 Amp (older) circuit. One circuit may serve several rooms. The Cadet heaters look like they are 1000 Watts (8.3 Amps) or 1500 Watts (12.5 Amps). This is a very large percentage of the available current for the entire circuit to be devoted to a new heating load that was never part of its original design. Probably does not meet the current electrical code, or the electrical code in existence at the time the structure was built.

If you put the Cadet heater on the old heating circuit this problem does not arise. The electrical load is served by a circuit designed to handle it.

Also, the original heating circuit is probably 240 Volts. This reduces the Amperage requirement by half.

If I had to replace a ceiling heater with an electric space heater, I would want an oil-filled (safer) baseboard type heater with a separate wall-mounted thermostat. This is a more expensive heater, but is more safe.

The Cheap & Dirty way to handle the need for a thermostat is to put the thermostat on the heater and not wire it separately. The problem with this is that on the heater is exactly the wrong place for the thermostat from an engineering standpoint. You want the thermostat far from the source of heat to prevent excessive cycling and poor heat distribution.

gokartmozart
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Location: Pacific NW, USA

Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by gokartmozart » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:15 pm

I have experienced Cadet heaters and they have a well-deserved reputation for being noisy. They are noisy because they have a circulating fan. Your radiant heat is not noisy.

The Cadet sales page in the link above attempts to claim they are now "quieter". The manufacturer knows they are noisy and is fibbing making a sales pitch.

criticalmass
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by criticalmass » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:52 pm

freelancer wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:19 pm
We hired an electrical company to install a new circuit in our condo. The company had told us that they would make a small hole in the wall to wire the circuit. The electrician instead made three holes in the wall and one in the ceiling without asking us first. Our condo building was built in 1960 and has electrically heated ceilings where the heating element is embedded in the ceiling sheetrock. He damaged the element somewhere and the heating stopped working.


The company sent another electrician who poked around the ceiling hole that the previous guy had made and found two breaks in the element that he fixed but the heating still doesn't work. He gave up and the company is offering to install (for free) a "Cadet heater" (presumably this one: https://cadetheat.com/wall-heaters/Energy_Plus) to replace the ceiling heat.

Should we accept this offer or are there better electric heating solutions that we insist they install?
Do you like your radiant heat? Tell your electrician that any replacement needs to be as quiet as your radiant heat. It is fixable, if they find a competent electrician who knows how.

Mister A
Posts: 125
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:17 pm

Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by Mister A » Tue Feb 19, 2019 3:38 pm

ralph124cf wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:10 pm
This ceiling is unlikely to be plaster. Drywall cielings with electric heating was common in places like the Northwest where electricity prices were very low. [...] He then wired in a short patch, and dabbed some drywall compound on the ceiling to approximate the existing popcorn ceiling. Total time less than 60 minutes per visit.

Ralph
This is interesting, thank you. I'd only ever heard of this being an issue with wires embedded in plaster, where the systems eventually tended to end up abandoned once somebody damaged them and exploring for the fault was impractical, but Googling I think I see what you're describing, too.

Of course, in this case, it's impractical for the electrician, not the OP, so too bad either way. For the benefit of everyone involved, I hope you're right.

EZ James
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by EZ James » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:10 pm

Another factor to consider is that the existing ceiling probably contains asbestos due to the date it was installed.

Excerpt from: https://www.asbestos.net/asbestos/products/drywall/

"Today’s drywall sheets, tape and joint compounds are also safe to work with. That wasn’t the case with earlier drywall products. Until the 1980s, practically all drywall building components contained asbestos. Originally, manufacturers added asbestos fibers into drywall materials to make them lighter, stronger and more fire resistant."

wilked
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by wilked » Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:55 pm

I am sure there are companies experience in repairing this. From the sound of it I bet this type of system needs repairs on a decent rate. Definitely ask around in the condo and see if someone else has hired someone. I would want it returned to original - don't accept these other options

ponyboy
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by ponyboy » Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:46 pm

The electrician that you hired should have insurance...or the company he works for. Let them use it! They will need to fix the problem they created.

Cruise
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by Cruise » Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:38 pm

Is your electrician licensed? If he refuses to make the fix, file a complaint with the licensing board. Submit a complaint with the BBB. Then after the estimate, file a claim in small claims court.

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F150HD
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Re: Electrician broke ceiling heat and won't fix it

Post by F150HD » Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:37 pm

freelancer wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 1:19 pm
We hired an electrical company to install a new circuit in our condo. The company had told us that they would make a small hole in the wall to wire the circuit. The electrician instead made three holes in the wall and one in the ceiling without asking us first. Our condo building was built in 1960 and has electrically heated ceilings where the heating element is embedded in the ceiling sheetrock. He damaged the element somewhere and the heating stopped working.


The company sent another electrician who poked around the ceiling hole that the previous guy had made and found two breaks in the element that he fixed but the heating still doesn't work. He gave up and the company is offering to install (for free) a "Cadet heater" (presumably this one: https://cadetheat.com/wall-heaters/Energy_Plus) to replace the ceiling heat.

Should we accept this offer or are there better electric heating solutions that we insist they install?
NO way. :!: :!:

Call someone in HVAC (or a different electrician) and get an onsite estimate for a repair. Get several quotes. The 'electrician' who damaged this should pay for full fix/replacement. This could adversely affect your home value if not fixed IMO.
Other estimates from different parties will also educate on you what can actually be done to remedy this issue and the approximate cost.

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