Many homeowners rely on a space heater during cold-weather months to warm up cold rooms or areas within a room. They are especially popular in older, less airtight homes and those with poor ventilation. While they’re convenient and boost the comfort factor in your home, space heaters can be efficient and potentially dangerous when used without caution.
Follow these tips to keep these small heat sources from becoming a big problem in your home:
- Keep them at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including children and pets. Never use them to warm beds, thaw frozen pipes or dry wet clothes or shoes, as space heaters are responsible for two-thirds of all winter house fires.
- Operate a space heater only when someone is present in the room; try to avoid using one while sleeping.
- Only use space heaters that have built-in heating element guards and an automatic shut-off switch that activates if the unit tips over.
- Keep the electrical cord away from high traffic areas and avoid using extension cords- if you must, make sure it is the correct wire gauge. Undersized extension cords can ignite when overpowered by the high electrical voltage of space heaters.
- Check for frayed electrical cords and replace if needed. Also look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label; this indicates that the unit has been tested for resistance to common potential hazards. It’s not a safety guarantee, just reassurance that the product isn’t a known hazard. If you’re buying an electrical space heater, make sure it has the UL label.
If you need a space heater in your home, chances are it’s due to the shortcoming in your home’s heating and ventilation system. For a long-term solution, give us a call. In the meantime, keep a safe distance from that space heater!