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Space Heater Hazards & Tips To Avoid Them

Modern electric infrared heater on floor at home. Space for text

Space heaters can be very nice during the winter months. They are portable, affordable and easy to use. The only negative thing about space heaters is that if used incorrectly they can turn a cozy addition into a risky or deadly mistake. Here at Fritts Heat & Air we wanna make sure everyone takes proper precautions when using a portable heater. There are several common space heater hazards and tips to avoid them. Here are a few to stay safe this winter.

Distance

Space heaters are just an added bonus and should supplement your furnace. Don’t rely on them as your main source of warmth because some space heaters use exposed heating sources that reach 100 °F or more.  The majority of heaters need roughly three feet of space around them when they’re hot or in use. Doing this drastically reduces the risk of a fire. Never set a space heater on a carpet or a rug. Use hard floors or a fire-proof surface if possible.

Running Your Space Heater Non-Stop

Running a space heater non-stop is a big hazard. You can potentially overheat the wiring or circuit causing serious issues. If your space heater uses gas or oil, running it continuously can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure these units are properly vented and turned off at the right time. Set a timer, or purchase a heater with a built-in thermostat. No matter what, do not leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off before you leave the room.

Size

As a general rule of thumb, you should have ten watts of power for every square foot of floor area in the room you’re heating. Having the wrong size heater can be a dangerous hazard. The space heater draws more from electricity or fuel when it’s too small for a room, which creates a bigger fire risk. Likewise, a space heater that’s too large can overheat a room and cause combustion. The likelihood of this happening is low but it’s still a risk not worth taking.

Bad or Broken Cords

Broken or frayed cords are major hazards. They can lead to electrical fires. If you notice these issues, reach out to a qualified repair person or replace the space heater immediately. When you use extension cords and power strips with a space heater, you could overload circuits. Do some research or consult a licensed electrician before plugging a unit in to extension cords and power strips.

Humid Environments

Moisture or humid environments are another dangerous hazard. Humidity in your home can cause electrical problems with your space heater. We recommend only using units approved for bathrooms or humid environments. Don’t use space heaters for a flooded basement, either. People generally think this can help dry the room but you’d be better off using a dehumidifier or wet-dry vacuum.

Maintenance

If your heater starts making strange noises, gets too hot, or doesn’t get hot enough, then its time for maintenance. Don’t ignore the signs of a failing unit because it could cost you. Purchase “UL Listed” heaters which display the UL mark on their label. This is an independent organization which tests for safety and durability. These units generally last longer and are better quality then after market units.

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