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Space heaters can solve a number of home heating challenges, but they are intended for short-term use in safe conditions under direct observation. Whether you choose to use an electronic or combustion space heater, it is important to take precautionary fire safety measures. Here are five tips to safely run a space heater in your home.
Choose a Heater With Safety Features
The safest electric space heater you can buy is a model certified by Underwriter’s Laboratory, or UL, for safe operation with minimal risk of fire. Look for features such as a ground fault circuit interrupter plug, automatic shut-off and a cord that reaches at least 6 feet. Electric heaters do not give off carbon dioxide, making these appliances the only heaters safe to operate indoors without exterior ventilation.
Space heaters can give off anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 BTU per hour, depending on the design. Be sure to choose an appliance rated for the size of the space you need to heat. Running an oversized heater or running a space heater at high power for long periods of time can increase the risk of a fire.
Combustion space heaters may run on kerosene, natural gas, propane, or wood and pellets. These appliances burn this fuel source to produce heat and require outdoor ventilation. The flue and vent to the outside should be free of debris, clearing this ventilation is an important home maintenance measure to ensure that carbon dioxide levels do not rise indoors.
Always Monitor a Running Heater
Never leave a space heater running unobserved, particularly in a household that has children and pets. It is a good idea to get in the habit of turning off and unplugging heaters, even if you only expect to be out of the room for a few minutes.
A heater that remains plugged into an outlet or heavy-duty extension cord may be prone to short-circuit or respond to power surges by overheating. Space heaters can be helpful tools for warming cold spaces, but direct observation is necessary at all times to minimize the risk of starting a fire.
Leave 3 Feet of Surrounding Space
Space heaters should always be placed at least 3 feet away from flammable materials. Curtains, paper, linens and upholstery can all be prone to ignite when situated too close to a space heater.
If you have not yet purchased a space heater, it can be worthwhile to measure the distance between the part of a home or office in which you plan to run a heater and the nearest GFCI outlet. Purchase a heater with a sufficiently long cord rather than planning to rely on an extension cord if possible.
Run Heaters on Hard and Level Surfaces
Be sure to place a space heater on a surface that is hard and level. Avoid running a heater on thick carpet if possible. Hard flooring of any material or a smooth, hard, heat-resistant surface are your best bets.
Footpaths and uneven surfaces where a heater may get kicked or fall over are also unsafe places to run a space heater. You should consider selecting a model that automatically turns off if the heater unit topples over for any reason.
Avoid Overloading Outlets
Electric heaters should be plugged directly into a GFCI outlet. Running a heater on an extension cord is not recommended, as this indirect hookup can increase the risk of starting a fire. If you need an extra cord to run to reach from the nearest outlet to a cold area, use a heavy-duty extension cord of the shortest possible length made of wire that is 14-gauge or larger.
A heater can draw a significant amount of power through circuits. If a space heater is plugged into an outlet, heavy-duty extension cord or power strip, it is a good idea to avoid also connecting other appliances to the same outlet. Space heaters are notorious for tripping breakers. When combined with other electronics that draw a lot of power, a space heater can increase the risk of short-circuiting or other electrical fire causes.
Space heaters are the cause of approximately 25,000 house fires in the United States every year. Whether a space heater relies on convection, combustion, infrared heat or any other heating method, it is important to exercise caution during use.
Home maintenance is necessary for the safe operation of combustible space heaters that vent outdoors. When you take the necessary safety precautions, a space heater can be an affordable and practical heating solution. Home services experts at BestPickReports.com can help you fix drafty windows, seal leaky doors, and replace old thermostats with smart technology, helping to make your home warm and cozy all winter long.
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