Can Space Heater Cause Fire? Find Out!

Can space heater cause fire? If yes, how do you avoid this? Stay with us to find out more.  A single, small- to medium-sized space can be heated with the help of a space heater. Although some stationary space heaters need burnable fuel, like wood pellets, natural gas, or propane, most of these devices, especially portable ones, are electric. Can space heater cause fire?

Space heaters can cause a fire; it’s crucial to take note of anything nearby or in contact with a space heater that might catch fire when using a space heater. We examine typical causes of electric space heater fires in this guide, go over ways to prevent them, and review fire investigation and subrogation issues to be aware of after a fire event.

Can Space Heater Cause Fire?

Electric space heaters can cause fires when placed too close to combustible objects, such as furniture, clothing, bedding, or mattresses. Most manufacturers advise customers to keep heaters three feet or more away from all combustible materials.

According to NFPA statistics, heating equipment is a major contributor to home fires around the country. Between 2014 and 2018, local fire departments responded to an estimated 48,530 heating-related fires annually or 14% of all reported home fires.

According to NFPA statistics, portable or permanent space heaters were a factor in 81 percent of fatal heating fires.

A fire may also be started by a flaw in any important heating parts, such as the power cord, outlet, or electrical wiring. When people hook a heater into an electrical extension cord, it frequently causes issues. Typically, manufacturers advise that heaters always be plugged directly into an electrical outlet.

Can Space Heater Cause Fire – Safety Tips

Always Supervise Your Space Heaters

The NFPA experts advise staying in the room while you use a space heater and closely monitoring it. This implies that you should never leave a space heater on while you sleep or use one at all. Unattended use of a space heater increases the possibility of a fire hazard developing that cannot be quickly put out.

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Make sure to completely shut off and unplug your space heater after you’ve finished using it. A space heater can keep a room reasonably warm even after turning off if your home is properly insulated. Although you won’t have an all-day heat, you’ll be much safer.

Test Your Smoke Detectors Regularly

It would help if you always had up-to-date, working smoke alarms in your home, condo, or apartment. Since space heaters have an inherent risk of potential overheating and fires, it’s a good idea to test your smoke detectors and ensure they’re working properly before you begin using your space heater.

You should also test your smoke detectors once a month to ensure the batteries still work correctly, even when you’ve packed your space heater away. Remember that the NFPA recommends you replace your smoke detectors every 10 years, no matter the condition.

Keep Hot-To-Touch Heaters Away From People And Pets

Pets and people are both subject to the NFPA’s 3-foot limit. Avoid placing a space heater in a busy area or hallway so that you, your kids, or your pets won’t accidentally walk or run into it.

Some space heaters can even be mounted on walls, which can help keep them out of the hands of kids and pets. For instance, the De’Longhi MicaThermic Panel Heater can be permanently mounted to a wall.

Never Ever Plug A Space Heater Into A Power Strip

Give your cord some breathing room—don’t let it bend too severely, or you may cause internal damage to the cord itself, creating a fire hazard.

The U.S. Department of Energy advises against using any power strips or extension cords when powering your space heater; instead, always connect it straight into a wall socket.

Using a space heater with an extension cord is unsafe since it cannot handle the same energy as a wall outlet and typically produces up to 1,500 watts of power.

Know-How Your Space Heater Works

Understanding how your space heater generates heat is a good example of how knowledge is power. Mica heaters, ceramic fan-forced heaters, oil-filled convection heaters, and infrared heaters are a few of the common varieties of space heaters that are readily available.

Warm air is blown across a ceramic plate by heaters with ceramic fans. They are therefore excellent candidates for warming up a specific area or a small space, but perhaps not a whole basement. Additionally, ceramic heaters quickly start up and blast out warm air. With some models, it may be okay to touch the product’s shell, but you should keep your hands away from the grill because it gets quite hot.

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Due to its dual heating mechanisms—radiant and convection—a mica space heater is an energy-efficient choice. This almost silent beauty can be mounted on the wall of your bedroom.

Oil-filled convection heaters, which function similarly to oil heaters in older homes, can be worth checking if you’re looking to heat an entire area. Although they run very silently, they are rather hot to the touch on all sides, so they might not be the most excellent option if you have small children or animals.

Infrared heaters, also known as quartz heaters, employ beam heat to distribute warmth rather than warming the entire space. Typically, their tops and sides are cool to the touch. Unlike other space heaters, this one doesn’t dry out a room because it employs infrared heat rather than blowing air.

You may better understand the safety issues involved if you are aware of the type of space heater you own and how it operates. Make sure you carefully read all warning labels and information provided by the manufacturer for your specific model.

Give Your Space Heater Space And Stability

The NFPA advises keeping at least a 3-foot distance between a space heater and anything that can catch fire, including rugs, upholstery, curtains, paper, and blankets.

To prevent accidental tipping or falling, ensure your space heater is fixed to the flat, firm ground or hardwood surface.

Additionally, whether or not an object is flammable, keep your space heater pointed away from it at all times. Additionally, this will improve the effectiveness of space heaters.

Make Sure There’s An Automatic Shut-Off Function

A space heater’s ability to automatically shut off is one of its most crucial features. This feature enables space heaters to turn off in the event of an emergency automatically. This means that the heater employs an automatic shut-off to prevent any fire from starting if it starts to overheat internally or tips over for some reason.

We have thoroughly tested several space heaters for both usability and safety. The De’Longhi MicaThermic Panel Heater, our top pick overall, has an automatic shut-off feature. Our best value space heater, the Lasko Ceramic Space Heater, also has automatic overheat protection to ensure any potential fire risk is reduced before it becomes a problem.

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How Space Heaters Are Regulated

Organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the Canadian Standards Association test space heaters (CSA). A UL listed portable electric heater, as one example of the numerous tests needed, must pass a tip-over test that mimics the most extreme tip-over orientation. By creating voluntary standards, issuing and enforcing standards, and outlawing unsafe consumer products, the U.S. 

Consumer Safety Protection Commission (CPSC) aids in lowering space heater risks. To help consumers, the CPSC also maintains a current list of space heaters that have been recalled. The International Code Council (ICC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Code also cover space heaters (NFPA 1).

Space heaters are covered by the International Fire Code (IFC), Sections 605.10.1-4 of the ICC. The IFC specifies which categories of spaces—or occupancies—can use space heaters. Additionally, it states that only portable space heaters listed and labeled may be used and must be plugged into an authorized outlet. While many organizations advise against using an extension cord with a space heater, Section 605.10.3 of the 2018 IFC expressly forbids this practice, stating the following:

Space heaters are covered by the NFPA in Section 11.5.3 of NFPA 1 – 2018. Space heaters used in offices are one of the topics covered in this section of the Fire Code. Some office workers keep heaters there. Although it might prevent them from toppling over, this also makes them vulnerable to being left on after workers have left for the day. Near the space heater, the areas under desks may also have combustible items like plastic trash cans, which pose a serious fire risk. Furthermore, maintaining three feet of clearance underneath a desk is impossible.

Due to the amount of current required to operate them, according to NFPA 1 – 2018, Section 11.5, space heaters must be plugged directly into an outlet. Electric space heaters shouldn’t be plugged in using extension cords. According to NFPA 1, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may forbid the use of space heaters if previous inspections revealed that they did not comply with this requirement.

Conclusion On Can Space Heater Cause Heater

Electric space heaters can help maintain a comfortable temperature in a room, but they can also be hazardous and start fires. Space heaters should always be plugged directly into an outlet and never used within three feet of any combustible materials. Many older units are still in use today without the safety features found in most new units, which can help prevent fires.