Can a Baseboard Heater Cause a Fire? – Understand the Real Risk and How to Prevent It

There is a very high risk of a fire breakout if your Baseboard heater has got faulty wiring or is not maintained properly. Baseboard heaters can generate enough heat to start a fire if they’re in contact with inflammables. These kinds of heaters are indeed a fire hazard and can end up getting you stuck in a burning house, but this seems to only happen when the machinery is not maintained and run properly.  

These days, more and more cases of houses catching fire because of an ill maintained heater are coming out. This question really doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Yes, baseboard heaters can be a fire hazard and also No, this is not completely true in all cases.

What is a Baseboard Heater, and How Does it Work?

The term baseboard heater is quite the literal explanation of what it is and what it does. Baseboard heater refers to a heater placed along the bottom of a wall. The basic idea behind this kind of weird placement of the heater makes sense scientifically. It’s common knowledge that heat has a natural property of rising upward, so by providing heat at the very bottom, it’s going to eventually rise up and heat the area around it pretty well. 

The electrical energy supplied to these heaters is converted to heat in a process known as resistive heating. This heat energy is then supplied into the room in order to maintain a bearable temperature. Most kinds of heaters come with installed fans to let the air evenly distribute around the needed area. This is not the case with baseboard heaters, because heat has a natural tendency of rising up, baseboard heaters do not require a fan to spread the hot air around the area. 

Common Safety Issues to Consider Before Using a Baseboard Heater

Because risk factors in using a baseboard heater are quite a handful, being cautious is the right decision. OR, you can freeze yourself in the cold winters. The latter is probably not preferable. So, let’s look at some common safety issues you must consider. 

  • Do not leave the heater running. Yes, it will be excruciatingly cold when you enter the room again, but do yourself a favor and turn the heater off when you step out. 
  • Keep any flammables away from the heater. Ensure a 3 feet distance between your combustible materials and the baseboard heater. 
  • Keep an eye on the kids. Kids can be too much to handle sometimes. They love to mess with just about anything and everything. But, for their safety, keep them away from the heater. 

How to Properly Maintain Your Baseboard Heater For Optimal Performance?

Baseboard heaters and just about any machinery requires regular maintenance for their proper functioning. Proper maintenance helps improve and maintain optimal performance. Here are a few things you’ll have to pay attention to maintain the baseboard heater effectively. 

  • Make sure it’s clean. The outer surfaces of the baseboard heater must be dust and debris free. It is suggested to have the heater properly flushed into the wall to avoid collecting dust around it.
  • Be sure to vacuum all the heater’s components at the end of the season. Go through a deep cleaning session before you put the heater away. 
  • Keep the airway clear, do not have curtains or objects hanging over the heater. 

Signs of an Overheated Baseboard Heater that Could Indicate a Fire Hazard?

What if the danger wasn’t prevented? What if something ends up going wrong with your heater? How do you know that it’s a fire hazard? With a baseboard heater at home, it’s always important for you to be aware of these signs. If you end up experiencing any of these issues, it is indeed a fire hazard; you better get out of there. 

  • The heater might be the culprit if you experience a constant burned smell but cannot pinpoint where it’s coming from. It’s advised to open all windows, doors, etc., and try attempting to switch the heater off. 
  • If the circuit breaker continues to trip frequently, stop trying to adjust it repeatedly; get it checked.
  • If the temperature of your baseboard heater is increasing at abnormal levels, turn the device off and get it checked by a professional, it is a potential fire hazard. 

Tips on Avoiding Fires Around or Caused by Your Baseboard Heater?

You might have already understood that you can get in trouble with a baseboard heater in many ways. So, how can you efficiently avoid any risk of fires breaking out? 

  • Firstly, do not put anything in front of the heater. This will prevent the heater from absorbing the required air but might also result in the material catching fire. 
  • Keep all your furniture at a safe distance from the heater. 
  • Do not put the thermostat set at a high temperature. Indeed, a baseboard heater takes forever to heat up. But, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t help to put the heater in a high-temperature setting.  

How to Safely Use Your Baseboard Heater in the Event of an Emergency?

If you are stuck in an emergency, first confirm that the issue is from the baseboard heater and nothing else. If it is confirmed, then go ahead as indicated.

  • The sign might be a burnt smell in the house or a tripped breaker; whatever it is, do not get in direct contact with the heater. 
  • First, let as much natural air as possible into the room. Don’t touch any electric plugs and switches; act quickly and open all the windows and doors. 
  • If it seems safe, reach for the off switch and shut the heater down. 
  • Please don’t turn it back on unless a professional supervises you. 

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