ELECTRIC SPACE HEATER SAFETY. Here’s some not-so-great news. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that winter of 2022 will feature below normal temperatures and above average snowfall. So, if you live in an old building–or have a lot of windows–prepare to break out the old space heater.
Here’s some also not-so-great news. According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in the U.S. homes. And a vast majority of home heating fire deaths (81%) involved stationary or portable space heaters.
So, what are your options? Sit at home with mittens on with your breath steaming up your glasses? Not so fast. With the right electric heater used with some precautions and guidelines, you can increase your safety and decrease your risk while maintaining comfort in your home.
KNOW YOUR HEATERS
There are three types of heating. Convection heating warms the air. Radiant heating warms objects. And heating warms both the air and objects. Space heaters come in four basic varieties.
Water or Oil-filled: These convection models work when heated water or oil travels through the unit and warms the surrounding air.
Ceramic: Also, a convection model, this works with a solid ceramic heating element instead of oil or water to warm the air.
Infrared: These are commonly seen in outdoor restaurants. Infrared bulbs send rays down to warm objects like tables, chairs, and any surfaces that they’re able to reach.
Fan-forced: This provides heat by blowing air over heated metal coils.
LOOK FOR THESE SAFETY FEATURES
CNET suggests that when buying a space heater, look for models with the following safety features. Bear in mind that if you have small children or pets, you’ll want as many of these features included.
Tip-Over Switch: This feature shuts the unit down if it’s not in an upright position.
Overheat Protection: If the unit starts to overheat to an unsafe level, this feature automatically shuts it down.
Plastic Face: This protects from heating to the point where it burns the skin on contact.
Thermostat: Prevent overheating by setting a temperature. The thermostat turns the unit on and off to ensure you’re getting the amount of heat that you need.
FOLLOW THE ‘THREE FOOT RULE’
Keep your electric heater at least three feet away from anything flammable like curtains, rugs, beds, clothes hampers, etc. Also, don’t use your heater in high-traffic areas of your room or in hallways where they run the risk of being tripping hazards. And if you can avoid it, don’t use your heater on a carpet.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR HEATER ON ALONE
A report in The New York Times real estate section notes that the best way to prevent a fire is to never leave a space heater running unattended. If you have children or pets that could knock over a heater or drape fabric on it, keep a close eye on its operation. You’ll also want to turn off your heater while you sleep. The Times highlights heaters made by De’Longhi and Lasko as two examples of models that come with times to minimize the chance of running unattended.
INSPECT, REPLACE, DISPOSE PROPERLY
When you break out your space heater for the season, take a good look at the unit. Does it have any cracks? Is the power cord in good shape, or is it frayed? Are the prongs on the plug damaged? A damaged unit–even slightly damaged–poses a risk. Get a new one. And don’t pass on the risks to others when you replace your heater. Don’t donate it to charity. Don’t put it on the curb with a “take me” sign. Take it completely out-of-commission by cutting its cord.
THINK OF INSTALLING RADIANT FLOOR HEATING
A radiant floor heating system quickly heats up any room in minutes. It’s inexpensive to run and can dramatically increase your home’s resale value.
We at SUPER ELECTRIC can partner with your flooring company, we’ll be on hand for all phases of your installation, from helping you choose the ideal heating mats and thermostat to wiring the system to your home’s panel.
As a licensed and insured electrical contractor all work is done to meet Washoe County safety code standards. Call us (775)230-7006