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8 Tips for Space Heater Safety

Space heaters are a convenient and affordable way to add a little extra warmth to your home. They come in a wide variety of sizes and styles to accommodate almost any area that needs heating. The downside is that they can be a fire hazard if not used with caution. People often use space heaters to avoid repairs or heating replacement expenses if their home heating system is malfunctioning. Considering the risks involved with space heaters, you should contact an HVAC contractor before using one. You may find that the potential risks of supplemental heating outweigh the costs of HVAC services.

Potential Dangers of Space Heaters

Some space heaters are not designed to safely handle the amount of electric current output. As a result, they may overheat enough to become a fire hazard to your home in Los Angeles, CA. Surfaces on many space heaters can become hot to the touch. Small children and pets (and even adults) may brush up against the unit and get burned. A person’s clothing can catch fire if they stand too close to the heater. The risk of the heater tipping over is another common danger. While newer models are designed to prevent this risk, it’s wise not to leave the heater unattended when children or pets are in the home.

Types of Space Heaters

Several types of space heaters are available to meet your supplemental heating needs. Here are the most popular products to choose from:


A ceramic space heater runs on electricity. It contains ceramic plates that heat up when electricity passes through them. They warm up quickly and are highly efficient to operate. Ceramic heaters come with or without a fan. They are designed mostly for small areas.

Fan Heaters

Fan heaters use electricity to heat a metal coil. The fan blows over the coil and pushes heat into the room. These heaters are compact, inexpensive, and lightweight. But like ceramic heaters, they must run constantly to deliver heat.

Infrared Heaters

An infrared heater uses electricity to produce radiant heat. It emits electromagnetic waves that heat up surrounding physical objects and human bodies. The units come with or without a fan. Some infrared heaters are designed to look like fireplaces to provide a cozy atmosphere. They have a cool-to-the-touch surface and a digital thermostat. 

Oil-Filled Heaters

Oil-filled heaters resemble old-fashioned radiators. They are filled with diathermic oil and use electricity to heat the oil. When the oil gets hot, it circulates through the fins or columns. Heat radiates off the unit without the use of a fan. The surface gets very hot, so the unit should be used with caution.

Propane Heaters

These heaters are convenient during power outages, as they don’t require electricity. They are efficient and cheaper to operate than other types of heaters. The unit uses liquid propane (LP) for fuel, which is more portable than other heaters. But be cautious. Propane heaters increase the risk of fire. Also, some models should be used with proper ventilation due to carbon dioxide emissions. You should purchase a carbon monoxide alarm if using this type of heater.

Panel Heaters

Panel heaters are fairly new on the market but are becoming increasingly popular. The unit can be wall-mounted or sit on the floor. Similar to oil-filled heaters, hot air radiates off the surface. However, these units use electrical currents instead of oil to produce heated air. Panel heaters can be used without the risk of fire.

Protect Your Home with These 8 Safety Tips

Space heaters should be a temporary solution for keeping your home warm. You should not use one (or several) as a heating replacement source. If your HVAC system isn’t providing the amount of heat you need, talk to one of the professional heating services in the Los Angeles area. A properly functioning HVAC system is always your best option for warmth and safety. Familiarize yourself with these safety tips to ensure that a space heater doesn’t endanger your home in Los Angeles, CA: 

1. Check for a Safety Certification

Most space heaters come with a label from Underwriters Laboratories, CSA Group, or Intertek. The label signifies that the unit meets stringent safety standards.

2. Look for Safety Features

Many newer space heaters have an automatic shut-off function that activates if the heater tips over. This feature minimizes the risk of accidental fires. Also, look for a safety grill around the heating element. 

3. Avoid Using Extension Cords

Have you ever used an extension cord and discovered that it feels hot? This is not uncommon and frequently happens when people use extension cords for space heaters. Always plug a space heater directly into a wall outlet to avoid the risk of overheating or fire.

4. Give the Heater Some Space

Space heaters should not be placed on carpeting and should have at least three feet of open space on all sides. Placing the heater close to beds, curtains, or rugs increases the risk of fire in your Los Angeles, CA, home.

5. Turn Off the Heater If You Can’t Monitor It

Don’t leave a space heater unattended, and remember to turn it off before going to sleep. Someone should always be near the unit to watch for signs of overheating or tip-overs. It’s also recommended that you use a child-proof gate around the unit to protect children and pets if the heater is unmonitored.

6. Don’t Hide the Cords

You don’t want to risk tripping over the electrical cord, but hiding it under a rug or carpet is dangerous. If the cord is covered, it can overheat and increase fire risk. Try to place the heater away from heavy traffic areas and leave the cord exposed.

7. Prevent Tip-Overs

Space heaters can tip over easily. Make sure the heater is on a level, flat surface at all times. Although some heaters have a shut-off switch in case of tip-overs, it’s safer to do what you can to reduce the possibility.

8. Inspect the Heater Regularly

Frequent use can result in loose connections, damaged prongs, or frayed electrical cords on the heater. If the unit is running hotter than usual, turn it off immediately and replace it. Check for these problems before each use and replace the heater if any of these issues. Don’t give the heater away or donate it to charity. Instead, make sure it is disposed of properly. 

Handy but Hazardous: Weigh the Risks

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that space heaters cause more than 25,000 house fires yearly with millions of dollars in property damage. In addition to home fires, 450 deaths and 1,500 injuries were attributed to space heater accidents from 2014 to 2018. Space heaters can be a handy solution to poor heating in your Los Angeles, CA home. But they should only be used short-term. Besides being potential fire hazards, the heaters can significantly increase your monthly electric bill. Weigh the risks and benefits of space heaters and consider other options if possible.

Safe Solutions for Home Heating System Problems

When your HVAC system isn’t keeping your home warm and toasty, don’t resort to space heaters to solve the problem. Schedule an appointment with professional heating services in the Los Angeles area to evaluate your system. A few repairs and routine maintenance may be all it needs. Contact the experts at Service Genius Air Conditioning and Heating if you need an HVAC contractor. We provide 24/7 and same-day service when you need us in an emergency. Our team is regularly trained on the latest safety regulations and technologies to provide the highest level of service available. Whether you need routine maintenance, repairs, or a new installation in the Los Angeles, CA, area, we have the skills to handle any job. Contact us today by phone or online to schedule an appointment. Then, leave the rest to us.