Wall heaters are often used for small spaces. They are compact and typically very effective. While they’ve been used since the 1950s, some people question their safety. After all, an average of 48,530 heating-related home fires per year were estimated between 2014 and 2018, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fixed or portable space heaters accounted for the most fires, injuries, deaths, and property damage compared to fireplaces/chimneys, central heat, and water heaters. These statistics are significant when you consider the dangers and availability of alternative heating and cooling options. But here, we’ll answer the question, “Are wall heaters dangerous?” to put any fears and uncertainties to rest.
The Safety of Wall-Mounted HeatersWall-mounted heaters are generally safe. They’re fixed to one place. On the other hand, portable heating units can be tipped over, and they often have exposed electrical cords. Both are substantial trip and fire risks. People and pets are also less likely to be accidentally burned by the heater. Many wall-mounted heaters are encased in insulating materials making passive burns much less likely. But an important consideration is the type of wall heater you have. There are electric and gas wall heaters and we’ll look at the safety considerations of both:
Electric Wall Heater SafetyElectric wall heaters don’t pose any safety risks related to gasses, flames, or chemicals. However, they have heated coils that can become quite hot. Avoid contact with these or tampering with the unit. With that considered, an electric unit is hard-wired and doesn’t need extension cords or power strips. If a wall heater is correctly placed and all safety precautions are followed, it can keep a room quite comfortable. But to ensure you’re using one safely:
- Mount the heater at least three feet away from furniture, carpeting, curtains, and other objects that can burn.
- Turn the unit off and unplug it when the unit is unattended.
- Check that the product is UL and CE certified before you purchase it.
Gas Wall Heater SafetyGas wall heaters are effective at warming small rooms. The safest ones are flued units, which are connected via a duct to an exhaust vent, so fumes are vented outdoors. If you purchase an unvented gas wall heater, make sure it has an oxygen sensor. It will detect low oxygen concentrations and turn the heater off if necessary. A gas heater should be at least three feet away from objects. In addition to being ventilated, a gas wall heater can be used safely by making sure you:
- Choose a UL-certified model with a sealed combustion chamber and a “100% outside air” indicator.
- Hire a qualified contractor to install the unit and avoid faulty gas connections.
- Schedule annual maintenance and operational testing by an HVAC specialist.