Are Space Heaters Safe?

Are Space Heaters Safe?

With colder weather here, lots of folks will be using their space heaters for the first time this year, or, buying a new one from a local store. But, are space heaters really safe?

When used correctly, yes. They can lower your energy bills by adding direct warmth to the rooms you use most. But while these portable heaters can be both efficient and economical, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Listed below are eight tips for using space heaters safely.

1.  Whole-Room vs. Personal Heater: Select the Right One

When you purchase a portable heater, be sure to buy one that is rated for your need. An electric space heater that is too large for a certain area will consume lots of energy and lead to higher utility bills. On the other hand, buying a portable gas or electric heater rated for a small space and expecting it to cover a large area will make it work harder to heat the space. Look for a portable space heater with overheat protection and fits your space.

2. Look for Space Heaters with Tip-Over and Overheat Protection

Today’s portable heater models include a variety of safety features that help take a lot of the worry out of using them. A heater equipped with a tip- or tilt- over switch will automatically shut off if it’s tipped over for any reason. This is a useful control, particularly in areas with active children or pets.

Space heaters with overheat protection switches function in nearly the same manner. It uses a temperature sensor, detecting when internal components become too hot. When an unsafe temperature is detected, the switch automatically shuts off the unit to prevent overheating.

3. Keep Safety Certifications in Mind

Portable space heaters that are listed by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) have been tested, proven, and certified to meet specific safety standards. The manufacturers of these heaters are also required to provide important information about the safe usage and care of their products.

4. Pick the Right Place 

Give your single-room space heater the clearance it needs. A few models can be hung directly on your wall, but others need a little more space. It’s generally suggested that space heaters be placed at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. These items can cause a risk of fire if they come in contact with a unit’s electric heating element or too-hot surface. Never sit or drape anything on top of a portable heater. In addition, be sure that the heater is placed on a hard, level surface.

5. Plug Directly into an Outlet

As a rule of thumb, plug a portable electric heater directly into an outlet with sufficient power capacity. Attaching an extension cord to the unit increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries. If an extension cord must be attached, use one that is properly rated and sized for the portable heater appliance.

6. Regularly Inspect and Maintain Your Heater

You should occasionally inspect your space heater, particularly when you first purchase it. Frequently clean and maintain it to ensure it’s working safely. Wiping yours down will also help reduce the amount of dust and allergens that may be dispersed around your space. Of course, never use a defective heater.

7. Shut Off and Unplug if Not in Use

Upon leaving an area, turn off the portable space heater and unplug it. Many models, feature programmable timers that can be used to program automatic on and off times for when you sleep or head to work.

8. Keep Heaters Away From Water

Unless it is specifically designed for use in damp spaces, refrain from running a heater in a bathroom or a humid basement. Moreover, do not touch the heater if you are wet or have wet hands, as this increases the risk of electrical shock.

If you have questions about heating (or cooling) your home, feel free to call the professionals at Garrison and Garrison Heating and Air. Garrison and Garrison have been serving the heating and cooling needs of Huntsville, Madison County and North Alabama for more than 45 years.