Are Space Heaters Risky for Your Home’s Safety?

Are Space Heaters Risky for Your Home's Safety?South Texas winters are usually mild. Since the weather often doesn’t get that cold, it may be tempting for many homeowners to consider using a space heater to warm the “in use” rooms in their house rather than using a furnace to heat the whole house.

While space heaters have their uses, they also come with certain risks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 40% of home heating fires are related to space heaters. The good news is that most space heater fires are preventable if you take certain precautions.

Choose the Best Type of Heater

In most homes, electrical space heaters are a safer choice than any type that burns fuel. Any source of combustion, such as natural gas, kerosene, or propane, gives off carbon monoxide. Fuel-powered heaters can be a cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, so if you must use one, be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector installed. Also, be sure that the heater vents to the outdoors.

Although electrical heaters are safer, they do need to be plugged directly into the wall. When they’re plugged into an extension cord, there’s a greater chance for overheating that could lead to a fire.

Look for Safety Features

Most space heaters come with at least a few safety features. Here are some to look for:

  • Oxygen deprivation sensor (fuel-burning heaters only). This sensor can detect when the oxygen in the room has been depleted and will turn the heater off.
  • Tip over switch. This sensor notices if your heater gets knocked over and will shut the heater off.
  • Overheating sensor. If the heater gets too hot, this sensor will switch it off.

You can check to make sure the model has a label showing that it has been safety-tested by an independent testing laboratory like Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Consider Other Choices

You may find that an HVAC system with zoned heating or even just a programmable thermostat can work more efficiently and safely than a space heater.

Want to learn more about space heater safety or other HVAC concerns in the Coastal Bend area? Contact CCAC today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 361-678-2495.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “brian-a-jackson/Shutterstock”

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »