Electric Heaters and Winter Safety
There’s always that one room in the home which just won’t
heat properly. The typical answer is, of
course, an electric space heater. Space
heaters are inexpensive, portable, and provide instant heat where you want it.
An electric heater is usually a more
efficient way to supply heat when you only need to warm a single room, making
them extremely effective for apartments, and can help cut general heating costs
when used properly. Improper use of a
space heater is extremely dangerous, however.
The high energy load can lead to electrical fires, and poor placement
can cause flammable items to ignite.
Some elements of space heater safety are obvious. Don’t use heaters that are damaged or have
frayed wiring and never operate a space heater near open water. But there are other, smaller, issues with
space heaters that people overlook or forget.
For one, never leave a space heater unattended. If you aren’t in the room, anything could
happen. The heater can be knocked over,
cables can begin to overheat, or a nearby item could catch fire from the
heat. The same rule applies to
sleeping. Do not leave a space heater
operating while you sleep. If you aren’t
able to watch for issues, the heater shouldn’t be in operation. Instead, try setting your alarm for a few
minutes before you need to get up. Start
the heater and wait for the room to warm up before getting up yourself. That way, the heater doesn’t need to operate
all night for you to enjoy a warm environment.
You’ll stay safe and your electric bill will be less as well.
Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from the
front of your heater. Bedding, clothes,
linens of any kinds, and boxes should all be three feet or further from the
face of your heater. Placing objects too
close reduces how effective your heater is at warming a room, but it also puts
them at risk of igniting and starting a fire.
As an added precaution, it’s never a bad idea to have a smoke alarm in
any room you’re heating.
You should always make sure that you place your heater on a
flat, stable surface. Uneven surfaces or
shaky tables are a bad idea. If the
heater falls over the surface it lands on (usually carpet) will heat up. The internal equipment of your heater will
also have to work harder. The best case
scenario is that your breaker or an internal fuse will turn the heater
off. The worst case scenario is that the
excess heat will start a fire.
Electric heaters come with their
own electrical risks, just like any other appliance. Frayed or damage wiring is always a concern,
so replace your heater if you notice stripped or missing insulation. Never cover the space heater’s cord with
anything, especially flammable items such as rugs, carpets, or boxes. The cord may be a little unsightly, but a
burning rug is worse. Never plug a space
heater into an extension cord or power strip.
Residential extension cords are not rated for such a high load, and few
utility extension cords can handle that power rating either. You should also monitor the cables,
faceplate, and socket to make sure they aren’t overheating during operation of
the space heater. If you hear a loud
buzzing noise from your breaker, or you continually trip the circuit, you’re
overloading the system and should remove some of the devices from that circuit.
For added safety around space
heaters, refer to the Association of
Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) safety guide.
If you’re worried about the safety of your home wiring, then
you should call Mainstream
Electric. We’ll be glad to conduct a
home safety inspection for your peace of mind.
And remember, when it comes to space heaters:
- Do not leave them unattended
- Keep combustibles stay away
- Ensure a tight fit on plugs
- Perform regular temperature checks of non-heated surfaces
- NEVER use power strips or extension cords
- Place on Stable surfaces
- Don’t run cords under rugs/carpets
- Keep them away from water
- Use smoke alarms
Smart! Call the Company with Heart! 866-411-ZAPP (9277)
information on home and business electrical inspections, visit Mainstream Electric online.