Space heaters are a popular solution for warming rooms that aren’t inadequately served (or aren’t served at all) by primary heating systems. Heating a single room with a space heater is often more cost-effective than heating an entire house.
As useful as they are, space heaters can also be dangerous. The devices cause approximately 1,700 fires, 80 deaths and 160 injuries in the United States every year. So how can you enjoy the comfort and convenience of a space heater without risking your home, life or safety in the process? We can’t assure your complete safety should you decide to operate a space heater, but following these tips will help you fare the colder months with less risk!
Purchase the Right Space Heater
Buy a space heater that bears the UL Mark label. It shows that the heater has been tested for safety and includes features which significantly decrease the risk of burn injuries or fires, such as a tip-over safety switch. A new space heater with thermostatic control will conserve energy by shutting off once the room reaches a set temperature. Consult the space heater’s box to determine the size of the room it is designed to heat, and do not purchase a model that is designed to heat a larger space than you actually need.
Space Heater Safety Tips
- Treat a space heater like a candle – never leave it unattended!
- Electric space heaters do not emit toxic gasses, although they can still cause injuries and fires when they are misused.
- Plug an electric space heater directly into a wall socket instead of an extension cord or multiple outlet strip. If you must use an extension cord, choose a short, heavy-duty cord with 14 gauge or wider wire.
- Place a space heater on a level surface where it is safely distant from foot traffic. Do not place it on a table, chair, shelf or other surface it could topple from.
- Do not let small children or pets near space heaters. Advise older children that space heaters aren’t toys, and monitor their behavior around the potentially injurious devices.
- Keep at least 3′ of distance between the space heater and any flammable materials (remember: your body is a flammable material).
- If a space heater has an open-face design, it should also include a protective screen.
- A liquid-fueled space heater’s flame should be blue in color. If it turns orange, that indicates the flame is burning an incorrect ratio of oxygen. Incomplete combustion may produce excessive carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless gas that can kill you in high enough concentrations.
- Vented space heaters require annual inspection by a professional. They will ensure the vent is not obstructed, rusted, or otherwise damaged to an extent that allows CO and other poisonous gasses to accumulate inside the living space.
- Do not use an unvented fuel-burning space heater inside an unventilated living space. In addition to CO and nitrous oxide (NO), unvented space heaters may produce sufficient water vapor to cause black mold growth inside a home.
- Store fuel in appropriate containers. Always use the manufacturer-approved fuel in a liquid-fueled space heater. Never fill a space heater with gasoline!
- Do not fill a liquid-fueled space heater while it is still hot, and never overfill it. Liquid fuel expands when it is exposed to heat, so you must leave some space remaining in the fuel reservoir.
If you own a vented space heater and would like an HVAC professional to make certain it is venting toxic gasses correctly, then we welcome you to contact Haugan Heating and Air Conditioning today. And if you’re using a space heater to compensate for an underperforming or broken furnace, give us a call right away! We serve the greater Sioux Falls, SD area for all its residential and commercial heating system installation, repair and maintenance needs, and are standing by to ensure all of your heating appliances remain efficient and safe.