Colder temperatures in the Midwest may prompt some people to start using electric space heaters in their home or office. Before you plug in an electric space heater just anywhere, consider some of the guidelines suggested from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Choose the Right Heater
Make sure your electric heater is listed as being tested with a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters meet specific safety standards, and all the safety precautions and alerts will be provided in the sales information that accompanies your heater.
Don’t use an electric heater that has the heating element exposed. There are many types of electric heaters, and the heating element should at least be covered with a wire grill or a guard surface of some sort. Portable electric heaters that operate by circulating water or oil are constructed differently, and the heating element is usually enclosed already.
Locate the Heater Properly
Evaluate the area where you will be using the electric heater, and take this into consideration. Although electric heaters don’t have an open flame, they can still ignite other materials located near them.
The heating elements of some types of electric heaters are hot enough to ignite nearby combustibles like draperies, paper, clothing, furniture, and flammable liquids. It is, therefore, important to check surrounding objects periodically to see if they feel hot.
If you are using an electric heater in your office, don’t place it under your desk near a wastebasket, or close to a coat rack, etc. Electric heaters at home should never be used as a device for laying clothes on to dry. It may be tempting to warm up your mittens, but it could also prove deadly if they ignite.
Don’t put the electric heater anywhere near water, and don’t touch an electric heater if you are wet. Keep heaters away from bathtubs, sinks, and other sources of water. There are proper heaters to use in your bathroom, so make sure you choose the right heater for the right location in your home or office.
Use the Electric Heater Properly
Usually, the manufacturer’s instructions will give guidelines for proper placement, how long to operate it at one time, etc. Some manufacturers suggest not using an extension cord to plug in the electric heaters, instead, plug them directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-guage wire or larger. If the electric heater has a grounding prong, make sure the extension cord also has the grounding (three-prong) plug.
Choose an electric heater that is appropriate for the size room. Do not purchase oversized heaters, and follow the room guidelines that are provided in the specifications included in the sales information.
Portable electric heaters are designed to heat up a small area quickly, but they are usually not designed to operate for a long time continuously. As a safety precaution, turn off the heater when you are out of the room, and it’s a good idea to unplug it also.
Whichever type of electric space heater you choose to use, make sure you keep it clean and dust-free. If you notice fraying on the wiring, if it smells strange, or if it isn’t heating properly, unplug it immediately, and call your local electrician.
Witt Electric, LLC is the family electrician you can trust to help with large or small home and office electrical needs. Learn more about our services here.