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Electric Wall Heaters and Fire Safety

June 16, 2011

Let’s talk about electric wall heaters for a moment.  We wound up looking closely at one of these a few days back.

Electric baseboard heaters and electric wall heaters use electrical resistance to create heat.  That heat warms air in the room.  That air circulates to elevate room temperature.  In order for these heat sources to be effective at all, they need good air circulation.  Unfortunately, they’re often installed where decorators want to place furniture.  Consequently many electric heaters are starved for enough air flow to be truly efficient at heating a room.  Blocking these heaters with furniture also keeps that heat in and near the furniture, and that can be where the fire department gets involved.

Manufacturers vary in their recommendations for clearance from electrical heaters.  Most land somewhere between six inches and a foot of clearance required around and above their product (some go as low as four inches).  If you don’t have the original manufacturer’s documentation, you may be able to get it on the Internet.  If you know the manufacturer and model number you can probably download the information you need.  If you can’t find the information, we recommend you go cautious and leave 12” of clearance around these heating appliances.

It’s important to think of the things that can cause problems here.  Color crayons and Lego blocks are common things that get left on or put into electric heaters by children.  Drapes are another item.  Baseboard heaters are often installed beneath windows to heat the cool air generated at windows.  Ensure long drapes are kept up high enough to not be a problem.  Electric wall heaters are usually installed in interior walls with no insulation to obstruct installation.  These are installed farther above the floor than baseboard heaters, about the same height as beds and sofas.  So furniture tends to be the big problem with these heaters.  Bedding is another issue.  I’ve been to a child’s bedroom to fight fire where the boy threw his bedding off the bed and onto the baseboard.  In his hurry to get to school on time, he never removed the bedding and we got an invitation to visit the house with axes and hoses.

During summer time, few people think about heat.  Furniture can get shoved up against heating appliances in the summer and USUALLY nothing happens.  However, in our recent case, children playing in the room turned the thermostat up too high.  The furniture caught fire and we got the call.

So pay attention to what is near and around your electrical heating appliances all year long.  That attention to detail could keep your house from making our list of places to visit.

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From → Fire Prevention

One Comment
  1. I was one of the few customers who went ahead with the purchase of this heater for my garage.Really electric baseboard heaters and electric wall heaters are safety from firing.

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