Here in the Seattle area the rain has started up again. As we move into Fall, the weather is getting colder, and soon you’ll turn on the heat in your home, possibly for the first time in months. Use our handy checklist to evaluate your home heater safety. We will cover both portable heater safety as well as hardwired heater safety.
Please note: In this article we are covering electrical heaters only. If your heater uses gas, kerosine, wood or some other fuel type, you should consult an article on safety tips specifically for your type of heater.
Portable Home Heater Safety
Did you know portable heaters are the second leading cause of house fires in the US? If you need to use a space heater, the checklist below can help you ensure it is as safe as possible.
Portable Home Heater Safety Checklist:
- Plug the heater directly into a properly installed wall outlet. Don’t use an extension cord. Extension cords significantly increase the risk of fire with space heaters.
- Make sure the outlet the heater is plugged into is in good working order. If you notice any discoloration or singe marks on the outlet, get it replaced ASAP!
- Check the heater’s cord for signs of damage or fraying. If the cord is damaged, don’t use the heater.
- Don’t overload the circuit. An overloaded circuit can cause a dangerous buildup of heat, and can lead to fire. If your circuit is overloaded and you need a heater for your space, call a qualified electrician to help solve the problem. They can help you either install a hardwired heater, so you don’t need to plug it into an outlet, and/or increase the capacity of your home’s electrical panel to accommodate the increased electrical load.
- Make sure you maintain proper distance between the heater and any household items, including curtains, bed linens, and furniture. The instructions for the heater will tell you what this distance should be, but it’s generally at least 2 feet of space around the heater.
- Make sure your heater has safety features such as automatic shutoff if it gets tipped over.
- If you have children or pets in your home, be extra cautious. Keep pets and children away from space heaters at all times.
- Don’t leave a space heater on at night or when you leave the house.
Hardwired Home Heaters
Hardwired home heaters can include:
- Wall heaters
- Baseboard heaters
- Infra-red panel heaters
Hardwired heaters are generally safer than portable heaters because they have presumably been installed by a qualified electrician who has made sure that there won’t be any issues with overloading the circuit. They are hardwired, so you don’t need to worry about outlets, cords or extension cords. Even so, there are still some safety tips to keep in mind.
Hardwired Home Heater Safety Checklist:
- Clean your heater. Vacuum out any accumulated dust, and use a soft cloth to remove grime.
- Make sure you maintain proper distance between the heater and any household items, including curtains, bed linens, and furniture. The instructions for the heater will tell you what this distance should be, but it’s generally at least 2 feet of space in front of the heater.
- Keep an eye on your heater and call a qualified electrician or heater repair professional if it is not working properly.
Do you need a heater installed, or need to make sure your home heating setup is safe and prepped for the cold season? Contact OHM today to get started!