Safety Tips For Space Heaters

May 13, 2021 | From The CEO

Heating has been a concept since the times of early mankind. Nobody knows when mankind was able to manufacture fire, but when they did, it was thought of as a means of comfort. But unlike the early man, we now also have to ensure safety when fire or heating living spaces are concerned.

History of Space Heaters

Fire was discovered and eventually used for the safety of homes. Inside people’s homes, the fire would be cultivated, and the smoke produced would come out of a hole on the roof of the house. This would be the first instance of something resembling the modern-day chimney. 

Mediterranean and European 

Central heating would be found in Greece in the form of the hearth. The hearth played a huge part in Ancient Greek lifestyle, even having a deity to represent it in the form of the goddess Hestia.

 The fireplace would make an appearance in the 8th century and later centuries would be widespread along with Europe. Like the fireplaces, stoves made their first appearance in the 800s as devices made out of bricks. Stoves used for masonry would become common in the northern area of Europe in the 15th century. 

These stoves were called Russian or Swedish stoves. They were known for their large size. Later iterations of these stoves would be decorated ornately, sometimes even having tile coverings. Metal stoves would make their first appearance during the 14th century. These metal stoves were made of cast iron hearth firebacks that were connected. In the centuries leading up to the current one, steam would be used in heating. 

It would first be proposed in England by one William Cook in 1745. Years later, pioneers of the steam engine Matthew Boulton and James Watt would have steam heating in their own homes. Though steam heating was met with success in England, other European countries were hesitant to employ this new form of heating. 

Pioneers of America

In the 18th century, one man would pioneer residential steam heating systems in the United States. His name was Stephen Gold, a stove maker from Connecticut. He would be granted a U.S. patent for “Improvement in warming houses by steam” in 1854. 

In the later parts of the 18th century, one Professor Warren Johnson taught at a school in Wisconsin where the temperature could only be changed by telling the janitor to adjust the steam valves. To make changing the temperature easier, he created a way to tell the janitor that the temperature needed adjusting. He didn’t stop here, however. 

In 1885, Johnson patented a thermostat, where to operate the steam valves, compressed air would be employed. He went on to establish the Johnson Electric Service Co. that manufactures and installs the system that he created. He would invent the humidistat in 1905. This device could control the humidity inside of a building. 

The Great War

In the era of World War 1, the heating in most homes was still being tended by hand by people. All that changed in 1912, when the first electric coal stoker that could be controlled by a thermostat was placed on the market. In the 1920s many manufacturers would release automatic coal systems.

Gas heating was ridiculed when one Frederic Albert Winslow proposed that gas could be used for heating along with lighting. It would be in 1880 when attempts on gas heating would be inspired by the gas utility companies since their revenue was threatened by electric lighting. 

Heating has a long and convoluted history. To fully grasp its intricacy, one would need a book. But to sum up, everything that has been stated so far, heating’s history stretches as far as the early man with the creation of the fire. It persists up to this day to provide comfort to us in the form of the space heater. 

As with everything else, one must be careful when using a space heater. There are many factors of the space heater that must be considered to ensure safety.

Space Heaters Safety Tips

Space heaters are devices that warm up a specific amount of space in one’s home. Many households employ these devices during the harshly cold months of the winter season. Just like with any other device, one must be careful when using a space heater. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 20,000 residential fires per year are associated with space heaters. One must first understand more about space heaters before acquiring one to ensure one’s safety. 

Space Heater Selection

Before a person thinks about buying a space heater, they must first internalize what they intend to do with it. Does the user intend to use it to warm up rooms with less temperate conditions? Or do they intend to use it during the aforementioned months of winter?

In this modern era of technology, space heaters powered by electricity are more preferred than those that employ the use of fuels such as propane and kerosene. Electric space heaters are also more generally safe than their fuel-based counterparts. When picking out a unit to buy, make sure that it is first and foremost listed or labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These include the likes of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL). These guarantees that the space heater’s performance and construction meet the voluntary safety standards. The buyer must also look for specific safety features that shut down the unit during certain circumstances. These may include the likes of overheating, touch sensors (if the grill is touched), oxygen depletion sensors, and the tip-over switch. One must bear in mind these factors before purchasing their very own space heater. 

Setup and Use

Before setting up your space heater, keep in mind that it should be at least 36 inches or 3 feet (91.44 centimeters or 0.9144 meters) and should be kept away from any materials that are flammable or combustible. The space heater must be placed on the floor unless specifically stated otherwise. Areas, where a space heater is to be placed, must be devoid of any flammable liquids. One must not place space heaters onto surfaces that may easily get caught on fire such as rugs and carpets. Space heaters should also not be placed near clothes, lest end up like Gina or Charles from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 

If everyone is using a space heater that relies on fuel in an enclosed area, opening a window or door to allow the fresh air to enter would be sensible. Doing this will help prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) or the depletion of oxygen. Never use a space heater that requires fuel to function inside a space without ventilation as the effects may be deadly. Space heaters that require fuel to function were manufactured after 1983 and were unvented. This means that they must be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor or ODS. The ODS will immediately power down the space heater if it detects a decreased level of oxygen in the area where the space heater is being used. For those space heaters that use natural gas or propane, here are some safety tips that must be followed.

  1. If there is a faint smell of gas, do not attempt to turn on the space heater.
  2. Turn off the controls, open a door or window to allow fresh air to circulate inside the area, and leave the premises.
  3. Keep in mind, that propane, unlike natural gas, is heavier than air and isn’t as quick to dissipate. 
  4. If you do smell gas, avoid touching any electrical appliances or outlets within the area where you can smell the fumes.
  5. Do not attempt to smoke a cigarette, not only is it bad for your health, but a spark may cause the gas to ignite, blow up, and endanger you. 
  6. For electric space heaters, avoid keeping them in moist, wet, or damp places such as the bathroom. This is because it may lead to electrocution or a fire hazard. 
  7. Be sure to plug a space heater into an outlet directly. Avoid using extension cords as this may lead to overheating or a fire.
  8. Make sure that your space heater is clean regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions on how to clean the space heater and how to maintain the upkeep. Also, follow the manufacturer’s advice on the inspection of the space heater.

Ensure the safety of your business or home by purchasing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. To ensure the safety of your business or home during the winter season, make sure to take the time to check the functionality of your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector aids your life since it detects the smoke from a fire and issues an alarm that alerts you and your family or coworkers to flee the premises and get out safely. A carbon monoxide detector helps you save your life since it detects a gas that may end up poisoning you. Have your detectors tested every month or whenever you change their batteries to make sure that they work properly. Safety should always be the number one priority.