Many people still prefer baseboard heating although it’s now a less common heating option. Nonetheless, it can be quite effective. A baseboard heater generates heat as electricity passes through it, rather than using fans and circulating coolant. When used properly, it’s generally safe; however, follow these baseboard heater safety precautions and tips to improve effectiveness and prevent a fire.
1. Avoid Blocking Airflow
Airflow is crucial to how a baseboard heater works. It requires a constant cycle in which cold air is drawn in, heated by coils, and rises to the top of the unit. This helps pull cooler air into the heater. If anything is directly in front of the unit, air intake will be disrupted and the system can malfunction or overheat, causing a fire. As a general rule, do not place furniture within six inches of the heater.
2. Keep Flammable Items Away
Curtains, fabric, and plastics can catch fire if they become hot enough. To avoid trouble, don’t place objects too close to the heater, and don’t allow drapes or curtains to hang over or near it. Nothing should be touching the unit as this is a serious safety hazard.
3. Maintain Proper Clearance Around the Unit
In general, leave six inches on the side and 12 inches in front of the heater. Follow the product’s installation instructions as each model has its own spacing requirements. Some units run hotter and need more clearance. Many models can be safely placed on the floor, but check the manufacturer’s maximum height recommendations first.
4. Don’t Place the Heater Too Close to a Wall Outlet
A baseboard heater must never be placed below an electrical outlet. While it’s acceptable to install the unit above an outlet, this is not recommended. The cord could potentially drape down onto the heater and melt the cable’s insulation. A heater with an integrated outlet can be used to meet National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements (which call for a wall outlet every 12 feet).
The NEC’s outlet requirements can make it hard to locate a baseboard heater. If an outlet is in the way, you can install two shorter heaters on either side of the outlet. If your electric baseboard heater can be wired in parallel with others, you can install them in different locations and connect them to the same thermostat and circuit breaker.
5. Use Only One Thermostat
Only one thermostat should be used to control your baseboard heaters. Some units may turn on or off at slightly different temperatures. However, using multiple thermostats can cause nearby heaters to go on and off unpredictably. That’s because the thermostat for one heater may be affected by the heat from another. Potential safety issues can result. Also, don’t turn a thermostat higher just to heat the room more quickly. A higher setting won’t heat the room faster.
6. Don’t Let Children Near Baseboard Heaters
Children can be seriously burned by touching a baseboard heater. Also, do not let them put toys or any other objects on or inside the device. When they’re old enough, explain to children how the unit works, the dangers of mishandling it, and the importance of baseboard heater safety.
7. Clean the Area Around the Unit
If a baseboard heater accumulates dust, it can emit a burning odor. To avoid problems, dust the surface of the unit frequently (when it’s off). Also vacuum any dust or debris on, in, or around it. This way, the heater can be operated safely.
Oregon Ductless Can Replace Baseboard Heat
While baseboard heaters can be operated safely if used properly, baseboard heater safety is always a concern. At Oregon Ductless, we replace some units per Portland General Electric’s guidelines and can install a ductless heat pump in your home. Daikin ductless heating and cooling units are safe, efficient, and affordable. A heat pump can cool your space, control humidity, and purify the air as well. To learn more or schedule baseboard heat replacement, call 503-755-5332 today.