Space Heater Safety Tips

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Michael Foster
May 14, 2024
Heating & Cooling
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Space heaters are needed in most households during the cooler winter months. They are practical and make it much simpler to remain warm at home. However, you must consider a few crucial safety issues before turning on your heater despite their advantages.
Even if your furnace is on, space heaters may be useful for adding a little more warmth to your house. However, if not used properly, portable electric warmers might be harmful. One of the main causes of house fires in the United States is heating equipment. These flames ultimately result in thousands of injuries, fatalities, and millions of dollars in property damage. Without adequate safety measures, space heaters may be quite harmful. The following safety advice from Home Alliance can help keep your house warm and secure throughout the chilly months.

What is a Space Heater?

A space heater is often used to warm a single, condensed space. Because they are designed for smaller, often enclosed regions, space heaters differ from central heating systems. There are several varieties of space heaters, most electric models. However, here are some tips to keep in mind when using space heaters:
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully before using the space heater.
  • Place the heater on a level, flat surface away from flammable materials such as curtains, paper, and bedding.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from furniture, people, and pets.
  • Use a space heater with an automatic shut-off switch if it tips over.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Please turn it off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Don't plug other electrical devices into the same outlet as the space heater.
  • Don't use an extension cord with a space heater. If you need a longer cord, buy a heater with a longer cord.
  • Make sure the space heater has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Never use a space heater to dry wet clothes or shoes.
  • Don't use gasoline, kerosene, or any other flammable liquids as fuel for a space heater.
  • Inspect the heater regularly for frayed wires or damaged cords.
  • Replace the heater if it has a frayed cord or damaged plug.
  • Don't cover the heater or block the air intake or outlet.
  • Use a space heater with a thermostat control to maintain a consistent temperature.
  • Teach children and pets to stay away from the heater and keep the heater out of reach.
  • Don't use a space heater in the bathroom or other damp areas.
  • Unplug the heater when it's not in use.
  • Don't use a space heater to warm bedding, as it poses a fire hazard.
  • Consider purchasing a space heater with safety features such as a cool-to-the-touch exterior, tip-over switch, and overheat protection.

Types of Electric Space Heaters

  • Convection Heaters. These heaters use natural air convection to circulate warm air around the room. They are energy-efficient and quiet but take longer to heat a room than other heaters.
  • Radiant Heaters. Radiant heaters emit infrared radiation that directly warms objects and people in the room rather than heating the air. They are ideal for spot heating and can heat a room quickly.
  • Ceramic Heaters. Ceramic heaters use a ceramic heating element that heats up quickly and produces warm air. They are often equipped with a fan to distribute the heat. They are compact and lightweight, making them easy to move from room to room.
  • Oil-Filled Radiators. These heaters contain oil that is heated and then circulated to produce warm air. They are slow to heat up but retain heat for a long time and are safe to touch.
  • Infrared Heaters. Infrared heaters use quartz heating to produce infrared radiation that directly warms objects. They are ideal for large open spaces and outdoor areas.
  • Fan Heaters. Fan heaters use a heating element and a fan to circulate warm air around the room. They are fast-heating and efficient but can be noisy.
Modern heater models come with several features that help ensure your and your family's safety, but you must always know what they are. When a portable space heater is tilted or flipped over for whatever reason, the tilt- or tip-over switch instantly shuts the unit down.
The closeness of portable electric heaters to common combustibles is another significant fire danger. Most portable heaters advise customers to keep a minimum of three feet between them and any combustibles. Many modern space heaters include safety mechanisms that turn off the heat or the device if it overheats or tips over. Most, however, cannot tell whether the items in their immediate vicinity are overheating or at risk of igniting.

How Long can you Safely Leave a Space Heater on?

All high-quality, contemporary space heaters are made to last a long time. Individuals frequently use space heaters as their main source of heat. They save money by only heating rooms instead of the entire house.
They place a strong emphasis on contemporary and high-quality. When referring to "quality," it is important to use a sturdy heater made from high-grade, fireproof materials. Avoid using low-cost space heaters made entirely of low-quality plastic, as these materials deteriorate quickly and can even melt.
A space heater's surface temperature rises when it is operated for extended periods. This is why you need a well-constructed product. In addition to the space heater's construction quality, it must be somewhat current. Technologies for space heaters develop slowly. Therefore, everything less than 10 to 15 years old may be considered contemporary.

How do I Know if my Space Heater is Safe?

During the colder months, many restaurants, schools, offices, and other companies rely on outside heaters to keep operations humming along and customers comfortable. The following safety advice can be used to heat and store propane tanks as well as other outdoor space heaters:
  • Utilize propane heaters as directed by the manufacturer.
  • Install heaters in well-ventilated, open spaces. Cylinders for propane cannot be utilized in confined areas.
  • Operate the propane cylinder using the shortest hose feasible.
  • Observe any occupancy-based limits. For instance, propane cylinders are not permitted to be located within five feet of exits in establishments with 50 or more patrons.
  • Propane tanks should be kept inside from potential sources of temperature rise, physical harm, etc.

Space Heater Safety Features

  • A safety certification marking, such as the UL mark, the ETL label from Intertek, or certification from CSA International, should be present on every heater you purchase.
  • Features for automatic heaters shut down when it becomes too hot: This function is essential. In case of the heater tips over, you'll also need a tip-over switch that performs the same.
  • Most space heaters lack a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) connector, which guards against electric shock. Manufacturers advise against using heaters around water without one.
  • A strong cable: Most space heaters come with a 6-foot-long chord. Never use an extension cable or power strip with an electric heater to avoid overheating.

How do I Keep my Space Heater from Catching Fire?

Electric space heaters can help maintain a comfortable temperature in a room, but they can also be hazardous and start fires. Space heaters should always be connected directly to an outlet and never be used within three feet of any flammable materials. Many older units are still in use today without the safety measures included in most modern units, which can help avoid fires.

Where Should You Not Put a Space Heater?

Keep the space heater at least 3 feet away from anything that might catch fire, including curtains, furniture, and bedding. Perhaps even extra space is required for a higher heater. Keep heaters away from things like paint, gas cans, and matches in a workshop or garage. When you leave the room or get into bed, could you turn it off?
A space heater might be the ideal approach to create a warm, cozy living environment while it's freezing outdoors. Although they may be dangerous, space heaters are an easy and cost-effective way to quickly and cheaply augment your home's central heating system when used properly.
Your furnace is your greatest bet for keeping your entire house warm throughout autumn and winter. For all of your heating and cooling requirements, contact Home Alliance. When it comes to furnaces and boilers, we are authorities.
We fixed, serviced, and replaced furnaces and boilers. For many years, local house owners have relied on Home Alliance for all their heating servicing requirements. Have you had a furnace breakdown? Dial us and be a member today for deals and exclusives. We are here to help day or night for your HVAC service needs.