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Baseboard Heater Safety Tips

Electrical baseboard heaters are not the most common type of heating system anymore but are able to be perfect for some spaces if properly maintained.

Your basic baseboard heater has 2 parts: the thermostat and the heating element. Rather than heating through a fan-assisted process, this type generates heat as the electricity passes through the heater. Like baseboards, these heaters are always placed on the lower part of your wall and are typically 8-10 inches tall and about 2-8 feet in length, depending on the size of the room.

Yes, while baseboard heaters are considered very safe, and the risk of fire is pretty low if misused, there is a risk of fire. Here are some safety and maintenance tips for preventing fire and to maximize the heating capabilities in a room.

Don't Block the Airflow. A baseboard heats as cold air is drawn into the heater and electrically heated coils warm the air. Once heated, the air rises to the top of the unit where it attracts cooler air from the room inside the heater, and the cycle continues to repeat itself.

But in order for the heater to function properly, you should know that nothing should be placed in front of the heater to block that air flow. Any furniture that may end up being in front of your baseboard heater should be at least 6 inches away.

Be Mindful of Object Placement. Placing objects too close to the baseboard heater isn't just a problem for airflow, but it also creates a potential fire hazard if those objects are potentially flammable under enough heat. If you have curtains that hang near or above your heater, make sure they are not close enough to touch.

Thermostat Control. You should only have 1 thermostat controlling your heaters. Even if you are planning to have several baseboard heater units in the same room at different positions, it's still a safer option to have just 1 thermostat.

While it's true that this may cause certain units to go on or off at slightly different temperatures, it's still better than multiple thermostats being influenced by the heat from other nearby heaters and switching on and off unpredictably.

Leave the Thermostat at One Setting. Baseboard heaters do take longer to heat an area, so you may be tempted to turn the thermostat up to a high setting in an attempt to heat your room quicker. In reality, setting the heater at a higher temperature will not heat a room faster than if it were at a cooler temperature.

Exercise Caution Around Children. If you have children, baseboard heaters or any source of heat can pose a danger to them. It's important that you keep children away from these heaters, as directly touching some of the baseboard heater elements could cause serious burns. You should also take the extra preventative measures in ensuring that small children do not place toys or other objects inside the heater. Any foreign objects placed in the units that come in contact with the heating element are fire hazards.

As well, if your children are old enough to understand, educate them about how baseboard heaters work, their dangers, and how to safely be around them.

Vacuum Occasionally. Although the accumulation of dust in your heating unit won't necessarily create a safety issue it's still important to occasionally vacuum your heaters to remove accumulated dust and debris. Baseboard heaters will often have a "burnt dust" odor when they are first turned on at the beginning of the colder weather. Vacuuming can help to eliminate this odor problem.

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Electrical baseboard heaters, though less common, can be ideal for certain spaces if well-maintained. Components include a thermostat and heating element. Safety tips include maintaining airflow by avoiding obstruction, mindful object placement to prevent fire hazards, and using a single thermostat for control. Prioritize safety with your HVAC Contractor.

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