Space heaters can provide extra warmth in a cold house or chilly home office. But they can also pose a safety risk—no matter where you use them. Here are some tips from Trust Heating & Air to keep your home safe and warm when it’s cold outside.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable space heaters are responsible for 1,700 house fires a year. and most unfortunately, fires started by portable space heaters result in about 80 deaths annually.
Heating equipment, like space heaters, is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are caused by heating equipment each year. These fires result in hundreds of deaths, injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage.
Safety should always be a top priority and concern when using space heaters.
Knowledge is power, so knowing how that space heater creates heat is beneficial. Some primary types of space heaters available include ceramic fan-forced heaters, mica heaters, and oil-filled convection heaters, including models that use infrared technology.
Ceramic fan-forced heaters push warm air over a ceramic plate. This makes them an excellent option for warming up a particular spot or a small room if your heater needs to be fixed, but not necessarily an entire living room. Ceramic heaters also work quickly by pumping out warm air once they’re turned on. While the product’s shell may be safe to the touch with some models, you should always avoid touching the scorching grill.
Space heaters are only built to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, dry clothing, thaw pipes, or cook food.
Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully. Make sure your space heater has a label showing that a recognized testing laboratory lists it.
Experts from the NFPA recommend remaining in the room while you use a space heater and supervising it closely. This means never using a space heater while you sleep or keeping it on when you leave the room. Indeed, leaving a space heater unattended increases the chance of a fire hazard that cannot be immediately stopped.
Half of all home heating fires happen during December, January, and February—they’re mainly caused when a heater is placed too close to fabrics such as curtains, bedding, or upholstered furniture. Experts and the pros at Trust Heating & Air recommend following these tips.
Manufacturers and the National Fire Protection Agency offer the following safety tips:
Safety is a critical aspect of space heater testing. In fact, each space heater endures three tests to determine the potential for causing a fire. The results of those three tests—tip-over, overheat, and drape—are combined for an overall fire safety score.
Although some heaters rate better than others in the fire safety tests, space heaters have passed for years. In 2012, the Optimus H- 5210 was a safety risk after igniting the terry cloth used in the testing experiment. CPSC later recalled the heater. “We don’t recommend buying a space heater that gets a rating of Poor in our fire safety test, but no space heater should ever be left unattended,” says Chris Regan, who oversees the space heater ratings.
In their most recent tests, 49 models got high marks for fire safety; very few, however, rated good or better on our hot-surface test. Two of the space heaters earned ‘Excellent or Very Good’ ratings in both their fire safety and hot-surface tests. Of course, they have tip-over switches that automatically shut the appliance off if it gets knocked over.
Portable electric space heaters can be a small and convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cooler weather. Unfortunately, as we mentioned above, they can be frightening fire risks and electric shock risks if not used with caution.
Remember, space heaters can cause fire and electrical hazards. Those without proper safety features, space heaters placed near flammables, or space heaters not plugged in correctly pose a significant risk. But there are many safe ways to use a space heater when needed.
Contact Trust Heating & Air for any of your heating and AC repair questions. Then contact us for home concerns like AC installation, preventative maintenance, heating repair, and more. We are located in Loganville, GA, and service the surrounding areas.