6 Tried-and-True Tips for Good Space Heater Safety
Not accounting for primary heating sources like central HVAC systems or heat pumps, space heaters are the most popular type of secondary heating sources in the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, portable electric heaters are the most prevalent forms of secondary heating equipment in 46% of American homes. Despite how popular these heaters are, they pose a major safety risk when used irresponsibly. Here are some tips on how to use space heaters responsibly.
1. Level Surfaces Mix Well With Space Heaters
Unlike wall-mounted radiators, concrete-based central HVAC units, or heat pumps, portable heaters are prone to falling over. No matter what type of space heater you use, its heating elements can readily light things on fire. That means you don’t want these heating elements near furniture, walls, clothes, rugs, or any other flammable material.
Always place your space heaters on level ground. Even if placing them on uneven surfaces is more convenient for you or makes you feel warmer, avoid this at all costs.
Although you probably aren’t a professional builder, every homeowner should own at least one level tool. Considering they’re less than $5 at supermarkets or building supply stores, you don’t have any excuses to hold out on buying a level.
Always check whether surfaces are level before placing your space heater there. Even though this might seem inconvenient, carrying out this preventative measure is undeniably better than suffering a house fire.
2. Don’t Use Space Heaters Around Children or Pets
Most American households are home to at least one child or pet, if not both. Considering how mobile young children and some pets are, separating them from space heaters isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Kids and pets are prone to suffering burns from space heaters. They can also knock them over. Even if you’ve instructed your child not to go near your space heaters, they could unintentionally and unknowingly knock them over. Without question, you don’t want to deal with a house fire.
3. Are You Leaving? Don’t Leave Space Heaters on
Nobody likes coming home to a cold house during the winter. But, a warm home isn’t worth the possibility of a house fire.
When placed on level surfaces, portable heaters are unlikely to tip over. However, flipped breakers, local power outages, or malfunctioning components could cause sparks. Admittedly, these things could happen whether you’re at home or out and about. If you’re home, you at least have the opportunity to call emergency services or prevent a fire yourself.
You aren’t provided these opportunities if you’re not home. Turning down the space heater isn’t an acceptable alternative, either. Always turn your space heaters off completely before leaving your house.
4. Only Use Space Heaters With Sufficiently Long Power Cords
Space heaters often have six-foot power cords. These leave you plenty of room to place heaters far away from flammable materials and on level ground. There aren’t any regulations that require manufacturers to equip portable heaters with six-foot power cables, though, so you’ll have to make sure you select a model with a long cord.
If you have space heaters with short cords, consider replacing them with models that include longer cords. Always aim for power supply cables that are at least six feet long.
5. Don’t Use Extension Cords
After reading the suggestion above, you may have thought about using extension cords instead of replacing your existing heaters. Extension cords increase the potential of house fires. Power strips also raise the likelihood of a fire.
Extension cords and power strips put more strain on power outlets, possibly causing sparks. On their own, space heaters require lots of electricity. Combining heaters with these items, even high-quality options from reliable manufacturers, is never a good idea.
6. Keep an Eye Peeled for Misplaced Heat
Obviously, space heaters produce heat. As long as this heat only comes from the heating elements, you’re in safe hands.
Outlets, faceplates, and power cords or plugs should never be hot. On a daily basis, check these areas for heat. If you detect heat from the heater’s power cord or a wall outlet, stop using the space heater immediately.
Feel free to plug your heater into another outlet. Check this new outlet frequently for misplaced heat. If you notice heat anywhere outside of your heater’s heating element, stop using it. Don’t bother repairing it or using workarounds. Instead, permanently remove the offending heater out of your rotation of space heaters.
Located in Harrisburg, North Carolina, we’re well-equipped to improve your home’s heating capabilities. At All Temp Co., Inc Air Conditioning, Heating, Plumbing, & Electrical, our technicians are fully certified to provide heating installations, repairs, and tune-ups.
We proudly offer these same services for all makes and models of cooling systems as well. We also offer energy audits and indoor air quality assessments and solutions. Give us a call today! We look forward to serving all of your indoor home comfort needs.
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