A space heater can warm up a chilly spot in the house, but is it safe? About 25,000 home fires every year in the U.S. are attributed to space heaters. In the overwhelming majority, careless or improper usage is a major factor.
In a home with central heat, a fully functional heating system should provide consistent warmth throughout the house. If cold spots are a recurrent problem, the first priority should be a complete furnace evaluation by a qualified HVAC professional to identify issues that may inhibit heating performance. Where limited areas still require spot heating, a space heater can be a viable alternative—but only if utilized safely.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Utilize only heaters that display a safety certification label from UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) or some other reputable consumer testing organization.
- The heater should incorporate safety features such as automatic cut-off switch if the unit is tipped over as well as a sensor that cuts off power if it overheats.
- Place the heater only on a hard, level floor. Never place it up on a table or a stand.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from any flammable materials such as furniture, mattresses and bedding and curtains. The majority of home fires result from putting heaters too close to combustible items.
- Don’t allow children or pets closer than three feet from the heater. Never place a space heater in a child’s bedroom.
- Space heaters can ignite flammable fumes from liquids such as paint, gasoline, and solvents. Don’t use a space heater in a garage or workshop where flammable substances are stored.
- Inspect the power cord regularly for signs of damage including fraying or melted insulation. Stop using the heater immediately if you notice wear and tear.
- Don’t plug multiple electric devices into the same wall outlet utilized by the heater. Also, don’t use an extension cord.
- Turn the heater off before going to bed or taking a nap.
- Make sure your house has functional smoke alarms on all levels. Test them monthly.
For more advice about space heater safety, contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).