Thursday, January 14, 2016

demolition project

Back in 1993, we had this ETS heat unit installed in our family room.  At that time, our house had all electric heat.  Our electric co-op had a special deal on these heaters. For the price they would install the heater and wire it directly to a separate meter, with a discounted rate on the electric it used.

It was ugly, but it really worked well.  Several years ago we noticed it wasn't working as well and called the co-op to find out about getting it repaired.

A representative came out and explained that a lot of time and labor is involved in repairing these units, and there is an insulating layer inside that sometimes crumbles when they open it. If that happens the unit is trash because that insulation material is no longer available.

We decided just to limp along with it until it quit working completely.  That happened this winter.
Lonnie called the electric co-op to see if they would remove it, and was told that they would disconnect it from the meter, but they would not remove it. It was ours now.

So after the workers came out and removed the meter, I decided one morning to break it down and get it out of there.

But what's this? My voltage tester shows there is still electric current there.

After a few phone calls with the electric co-op and their repairman, I learned that the thermostat for the unit is wired into our main electric box and must be turned off at the breaker, and the wiring to the heater disconnected.

Okay, now we can proceed.  First, off with the front cover. That crumbly insulation was under there, and some thick cottony material.  Behind that you can see bricks.

Behind the bricks are the heat elements.  
The reason the electric co-op offered a discount on these units is because they were designed to cycle on at night (off peak) for the elements to come on and heat the bricks. In the daytime the heat would be dispersed by fans in the bottom of the unit.   ETS = Electric Thermal Storage.

There were four rows of bricks, 54, in there with 2 sets of heat elements.  That's why we couldn't just pick the thing up and carry it out.  The bricks are heavy, I could only carry four at a time. (They look like they might be useful for making paths or lining flower beds though).

I can see some elements are broken...burned in half, I guess.

Once the bricks were removed, this part wasn't too heavy.

It still had to be cut loose from the wiring. You better believe I tested and retested and tested again to be sure there was no current there before I cut!  I was still nervous - like defusing a bomb!

Snip, snip, snip.

 Didn't get electrocuted but was shocked by all the filth back there!

The unit had been held upright by this bracket with fourteen million screws holding it to the window trim. (maybe only sixteen screws).

Now of course, there is a light spot on the floor, and also the wall and window trim are lighter.
One of these days I will see if I can stain the floor to blend in a bit better.

Until then, If anyone asks about it, I will tell them this long drawn out story that I've just told here!


  1. I congradulate you on having the good sense to check for unexpected power sources. They really should have told you and there should have been a warning sticker about that. Elevator equipment is required to have such a warning sticker when more than one source of power is present.

  2. The folks at the electric co-op didn't seem to know much about anything to do with the heater. It's been years since they offered the deal on them.
    Fortunately they got an independent repairman to call me, and he told me what to do about the thermostat. Pretty nice of him to give that free advice..considering he charges $600 to come out and remove and haul away these heaters.