Three Ways You're Compromising Safety With Electric Baseboard Heaters

If you have just moved into an apartment that has electric baseboard heaters, and you have never used these before, you must be aware of the safety precautions you have to take. Electric baseboard heaters can work well if you use them properly and keep them in good shape, but it is easy to accidentally create a real fire hazard if you don't know what you're doing. Here are three common issues that can compromise your safety -- if you want to use the baseboard heaters without any trouble, do not do these three things.

Drapes, Papers, and Anything Loose

Electric baseboard heaters get hot, and the heat can cause flammable items to combust. Papers that fall onto the heater from nearby tables, drapes that hang down onto the heater, and anything else that gets too close creates a fire hazard. Keep furniture away from the heaters -- this can be difficult sometimes because older heaters are often very long, effectively preventing you from placing furniture against the walls they're on -- and shorten drapes if the heater is under a window. In fact, you may want to switch mto using blinds that end just below the window frame instead of drapes that extend to the floor.

Running Cords Near the Heaters

A related issue is electrical cords. If you have cords that are running along the length of the heater -- even if the cords aren't touching the heater -- the heat radiating out of the heater may prove to be too hot for the cords. The air coming out of the heater's vents right at the vent mouths is very hot; the hot air will cool as it travels around the room, so to ensure some heat spreads around, the air needs to be very hot when it leaves the heater. But that means that if you have a cord running right next to the heater, the excessive heat can melt the cord and cause a short, which could spark a fire. Move cords away -- find other outlets, and don't use any outlets located next to the heater.

Not Cleaning the Heaters

It's normal for dust to build up over the summer, and you can get that first-use-of-the-season burning smell for a short time when you turn on the heater when cold weather hits. But excessive dust, webs, and other debris that falls into the vents along the heater's edge can catch fire. Before using the heater when the cold season starts, remove the cover and carefully vacuum up the dust you see inside. Don't touch any wiring; the vacuum's wand should be able to suck up dust without actually coming into contact with the heater's parts.

If you have more questions about using the baseboard heater, contact heater repair and installation companies. It may be a good idea to replace very old heaters, too, so find out what the costs would be and how much more energy efficient a new baseboard heater would be.