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Electric Heaters and Winter Safety

There’s always that one room in the home which just won’t heat properly. The typical answer is, of course, an electric space heater. Space
heaters are inexpensive, portable, and provide instant heat where you want it.


An electric heater is usually a more efficient way to supply heat when you only need to warm a single room, making them extremely effective for apartments, and can help cut general heating costs when used properly. Improper use of a space heater is extremely dangerous, however,
the high energy load can lead to electrical fires, and poor placement can cause flammable items to ignite.

Space Heater Precautions

Some elements of space heater safety are obvious. Don’t use heaters that are damaged or have frayed wiring and never operate a space heater near open water. But there are other, smaller, issues with space heaters that people overlook or forget.

For one, never leave a space heater unattended. If you aren’t in the room, anything could happen. The heater can be knocked over,
cables can begin to overheat, or a nearby item could catch fire from the heat. The same rule applies to sleeping. Do not leave a space heater
operating while you sleep. If you aren’t able to watch for issues, the heater shouldn’t be in operation. Instead, try setting your alarm for a few
minutes before you need to get up. Start the heater and wait for the room to warm up before getting up yourself. That way, the heater doesn’t need to operate all night for you to enjoy a warm environment.You’ll stay safe and your electric bill will be less as well.

Placement Safety

Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from the front of your heater. Bedding, clothes, linens of any kinds, and boxes should all be three feet or further from the face of your heater. Placing objects too close reduces how effective your heater is at warming a room, but it also puts them at risk of igniting and starting a fire. As an added precaution, it’s never a bad idea to have a smoke alarm in any room you’re heating.

You should always make sure that you place your heater on a flat, stable surface. Uneven surfaces or shaky tables are a bad idea. If the
heater falls over the surface it lands on (usually carpet) will heat up. The internal equipment of your heater will also have to work harder. The best case scenario is that your breaker or an internal fuse will turn the heater off. The worst case scenario is that the excess heat will start a fire.

Electrical Safety

Electric heaters come with their own electrical risks, just like any other appliance. Frayed or damage wiring is always a concern, so replace your heater if you notice stripped or missing insulation. Never cover the space heater’s cord with anything, especially flammable items such as rugs, carpets, or boxes. The cord may be a little unsightly, but a burning rug is worse. Never plug a space heater into an extension cord or power strip. Residential extension cords are not rated for such a high load, and few utility extension cords can handle that power rating either. You should also monitor the cables, faceplate, and socket to make sure they aren’t overheating during operation of the space heater. If you hear a loud buzzing noise from your breaker, or you continually trip the circuit, you're overloading the system and should remove some of the devices from that circuit.

For added safety around space
heaters, refer to the Association of
Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) safety guide

If you’re worried about the safety of your home wiring, then you should call Mainstream Electric. We’ll be glad to conduct a home safety inspection for your peace of mind. And remember, when it comes to space heaters:

  • Do not leave them unattended
  • Keep combustibles stay away
  • Ensure a tight fit on plugs
  • Perform regular temperature checks of non-heated surfaces
    and cords
  • NEVER use power strips or extension cords
  • Place on Stable surfaces
  • Don’t run cords under rugs/carpets
  • Keep them away from water
  • Use smoke alarms

Smart! Call the Company with Heart! (866) 978-9297