How To Operate A Space Heater Safely

What do you need to do to use a space heater safely? We'll explain. Read our tips for where and how to use a space heater without creating danger.

Space Heaters: How To Use Safely To Warm Your Home

The seasons are about to change again, and as we exit the summertime months the cold weather approaches, and with that comes the need to heat the interior of your home. Although central heat and air conditioning is the norm in most modern homes, there are still lots of older homes that don’t have a modern HVAC system installed. Meaning that a space heater is one of the few options for heating interior rooms during the wintertime, and space heaters have come a long way from their humble beginnings. According to Consumer Reports the space heater is responsible for approximately 25,000 house fires every year, so learning to operate a space heater safely is crucial. The space heater is a fairly simple piece device technologically, but there are many different sizes of a space heater to choose from.

Utilizing a space heater really boils down to what your needs are going to be, whether you are trying to heat a single room or you want to heat your whole home. The space heater has gotten a bad rap in recent years for being dangerous and a fire hazard, but this couldn’t be further from the truth if you understand how to use a space heater safely. Space heaters are powered by a heating element, which leads the unit to get very hot. The older models were fairly dangerous and could spark on a rug or other flammable object, which is why modern space heaters have changed their design in some aspects.

Utilizing a space heater doesn’t have to be risky, but you are going to need to place your space heater in the right parts of your home. The new modern space heaters are a lot different than their predecessors were, and with the right operation, you can get an incredible amount of warmth out of a single unit. We are going to take a look at how to operate a space heater safely, read on below.

How to Verify The Safety Features

Space heaters are a lot different then they said fifteen years ago, offering a plethora of safety features that the predecessors didn’t. But, there are still some very cheap models that come around from time to time that offer no safety features and these models you’ll want to avoid like the plague. The first safety feature that you are going to want in a space heater is a tip-over switch. The tip-over switch automatically shuts off the heater when it tips over, and most mainstream models have this feature. The tip-over switch is a must if you have rugs or a carpeted room that you are going to put the space heater on because even an animal can come around and knock the heater over which could cause a fire.

Another feature that’s worth looking into is a GFCI (ground fault interrupter plug). The GFCI prevents shock during power surges as well as if the unit accidentally comes into contact with liquid. Although the manufacturers recommend that space heaters should be kept far away from liquids, accidents happen. You’ll want to verify that the power cord is thick and has a ground on it, and you never want to use a space heater with an extension cord or a power strip because the unit generally draws a high amount of electricity.

How To Use A Space Heater Safely

First and foremost the space heater is an appliance that tends to get very hot, so you have to keep this in mind when you are deciding where to place the unit. Space heaters should be placed on a hard level surface like a hardwood or tile floor, never on the carpet. While this might seem inconvenient it's also inconvenient when your home burns down, keep that in mind. Space heaters are meant to be used on a level surface, not on top of a table and although it might seem tempting to get the warmth a little higher you’ll never want to place a space heater on top of a table. You should never put a space heater in a child's bedroom, the fire risk is still there and this is just an all-around mistake.

There should also be a 3-foot clearance around the space heater where children and pets are not allowed. The space heater can potentially burn a child or an animal, especially once it reaches its operating temperature. You’ll also want to establish the 3-foot clearance from curtains, blankets, and anything else that’s potentially flammable. And although it might seem tempting for those do-it-yourselfers, you never want to use a space heater outdoors in a garage or anywhere that you keep chemicals stored. Ideally, you want to make sure that you unplug the space heater after every use, even if it’s off. Space heaters can be a great asset to have in your home, but they can also be dangerous when not used correctly.

Conclusion: Why Space Heater Safety Is Important

The cold season is on the way, and for those of us that don’t have central heat and air it can be a tempting proposition to get a space heater. But, without the proper safety precautions, a space heater can become a fire hazard. So, take the time to heed the safety instructions and place your space heater on a hard level surface. Keep the space heater away from blankets, rugs, and furniture and you will have a pleasant winter with lots of warmth for your home. Today’s modern space heaters do have a lot of technical improvements, but you still want to heed the safety instructions because accidents can happen to anyone.

Sources— Consumer Reports, DIY Network