If you utilize space heaters to help heat your home in the cold winter months, it’s crucial to realize that they need to be used correctly. When not used appropriately, space heaters can result in a devastating house fire. In fact, it’s been estimated that about 25,000 house fires every year are caused by space heaters. Here are some of our best tips to help ensure that you’re using your space heaters correctly.
Only Run Your Heater When You’re Home
Whenever you’re going to turn on your space heater, you want to ensure that you’re home. Never leave your space heater set on auto mode, where it will kick on whenever the temperature gets too cold. If you’re not home, it could kick on and end up catching a flammable item close to it on fire. You should avoid running your space heater when you go to bed as well.
No Power Strips or Extension Cords
When plugging in your space heater, you want to only use a wall outlet. Space heaters pull too much power for most power strips and extension cords. This can cause your extension cord or power strip to overheat and catch on fire. Stick to using a wall outlet and leave the second outlet open. Adding more electronics to the outlet can end up overloading your circuit.
Get a Heater With a Safety Certification
Before you purchase a space heater, you should familiarize yourself with some of the most common safety certifications. This way, you can ensure the space heater you purchase has a certification. There are three main certifications, which are ETL, UL, and CSA. If you see these certifications on the box, it means that the product has passed rigorous safety testing measures and it’s safe to have in your home.
Inspect Your Heater Frequently
Every time that you go to use your space heater, you’ll want to inspect it. Look over the housing to see if there is any cracking. Take time to look over the cord. Take note of any bare wiring or if it’s loose at the housing. If you notice that your space heater has developed any of these defects, resist the urge to use it as it could be dangerous and a fire hazard.
Keep It on the Ground
It can be very tempting to put your space heater up on a bookcase, coffee table, or cabinet. This isn’t a good idea as it can more easily get knocked over. Stick to putting the space heater on a level and ground surface. Your unit should be completely level so that it doesn’t accidentally tip over. Avoid putting your space heater on carpeting or another flammable material. Stick to hardwood flooring as this can withstand the heat produced.
Avoid Placing It Near Flammable Objects
When choosing the ideal location for your space heater, you’ll want to avoid placing it near any flammable objects. It’s a good rule of thumb to give it a good three feet of space between any flammable object, like curtains, and your space heater. Many homeowners are surprised to discover that flammable objects within a foot or two of their space heater are prone to catching fire as they overheat. Protect your items and assess the area for anything that is flammable before turning on your space heater.
Don’t Place It Near Water
Water from flooding or even from your hands touching your space heater can cause electrocution. For this reason, it’s highly advisable to avoid placing your space heater anywhere near water. This means no space heaters in the bathroom, kitchen, or basement that is prone to flooding.
Opt for an Electric Heater
There are many different space heaters out there that run on different fuels. Some of the most common are electric, gas, and oil. Since you’re going to be using your space heater indoors, it’s best to stick to electric-powered options. Using gas or oil space heaters can require extra venting as the gases they produce can be dangerous to your respiratory health.
Set Rules For the Kids
Some space heaters can be dangerous when knocked over or touched after they’ve been running a while. As an adult, you likely understand the many dangers that come along with using a space heater. However, your children probably don’t. Take the time to explain the dangers and create some rules regarding the use of your space heater. Your children should always keep a safe distance from the heater, and it’s best to leave the turning on and off of the heater to the adults.
Get Tip Over Protection
One of the most dangerous issues that come along with using a space heater is the potential for it to fall over. This could cause a decrease in airflow of the unit and result in overheating that could lead to a fire. In addition, any flammable objects that the space heater may fall into can catch fire. Tip-over protection is a great safety feature that shuts the space heater off when it senses that it isn’t level.
Overheating is a big concern for homeowners who utilize their space heaters on a regular basis. When a unit overheats, it could melt its internal components and start a dangerous house fire. Fortunately, most newer space heaters come with overheat protection. Whenever the space heater senses that its internal components are too hot, it will shut the entire unit off.
Another common problem that many older space heaters have is they become too hot to touch. In fact, some space heaters with metal housings can get so hot that they’ll burn your skin when you touch them. This isn’t ideal for a home environment. Instead, you should invest in cool-touch housing. This safety feature ensures that the actual housing of your space heater remains cool to the touch no matter how long your space heater has been running.
The natural way that space heaters work can pose a potential danger to both pets and children. It’s not uncommon for either to run around the house and potentially knock over the space heater. Some space heater manufacturers have developed a newer safety feature known as pet sense. These units will automatically shut off whenever they sense that a pet or child is too close to them. This protects the pet or child from getting burnt and the space heater from causing a fire if knocked over.
Keep the Cord Visible
Whenever you’re plugging your space heater in, you need to be mindful of how you place the cord. Don’t try to run the cord under carpeting or another similar object. This could cause the wiring to overheat and result in a fire. It also creates a major tripping hazard for anyone coming into your home. Stick to leaving the cord out in the open where it can get air and is out of the way of normal foot traffic.
Trustworthy Heating Services
Holbrook Heating & Air Conditioning provides trustworthy heating services for the entire Syracuse, NY, community. We’re happy to assist with all of your AC repair, AC installation, AC maintenance, water heater, ductless mini-split, indoor air quality, heat pump, generator, and commercial HVAC needs. Call us today to schedule your next service appointment.