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While it could be nothing, it is a good idea to have a heating professional check them once in a while. Sounds a little odd, though, as most electric baseboard heaters have no vents.
You will be comforted by the reassurance of having them looked at.
Farmerbear at FixYa.com
I AM ASUMING THESE ARE ELECTRIC BASEBOARD HEATERS, I ADVISE TO CALL A EXPERT BECAUSE YOU ARE DEALING WITH ABOUT 240 VOLTS OF ELECTRICITY, BUT THE PROBLEM MAYBE THE THERMOSAT ITS SELF, CHECK TO SEE IF THIR IS 240 VOLTS AT THE THERMOSTAT, IF NOT MAKE SURE THERE IS 240 AT THE BREAKER, IF THERE IS POWER AT THE BREAKER, THE THERMOSTAT. CHECK AT THE HEATER, ONE LEGG OF THE BREAKER CAN BE BAD, THESE ARE VERY COMMEN PROBLEMS AD OUT OF 200 HEATER PROBLEMS IT IS USALLY ONE OF THESE, PLEASE LEAVE FEED BACK IF THIS HELPS YOU THANKS
I could find no electrical code or mechanical code that says you can do that, so I wouldn't do that. But have you thought of or do you have the overhead space to install a hanging unit heater? They don't require much space(just make sure you install it per manufacturers specifications) and they come in much higher BTU ratings.
From the two red and two black wires (and the specs in the pdf), your new thermostat sounds like it's designed to directly control the line voltage (120 or 240) to the heater. That's the usual way baseboard heaters are controlled.
Could your wires be red, black, and (old, yellowed) white, the standard colors in a 3-wire power cable? Just the red and black should be enough to control a 120-volt heater so I don't understand what the white would have been used for. If it were my heater I'd take off the cover(s) -- with the power off, of course -- and find out what those wires actually connect to.
I just ran into this same problem yesterday when I had a new baseboard heater installed in my tiny bedroom. When I turned it on it gave off a horrible smell that made me cough and choke. The stench went everywhere -- opening the bedroom windows and closing the door was not enough. I called the electrician this morning and he told me that it is the coating on the heater coil. He said they coat the coils when the heaters are manufactured to prevent them from corroding before they are installed. He said this would happen with any new baseboard heater I got. He suggested that I go stay somewhere else for a few days while leaving the heater on high to let the coating burn off. Since I could not do this, I had the heater removed again.
I wish I had a better answer for you. It seems crazy to me that a manufacturer would make heater coils out of a metal that corrodes easily -- I mean, it will start corroding as soon as the coating burns off, right? Plus, why use a toxic coating in the first place?