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Baseboard heaters may seem ideal when considering ways to heat your room and home. They are small, quiet, and easy to install. But when considering a heating solution for your home, of course, the question of safety comes to mind. So, are baseboard heaters safe?
When baseboard heaters are used and maintained properly, they are generally considered safe. There are precautions you must consider, like paying attention to fire hazards and appropriate thermostat control. But overall, baseboard heaters are an efficient and safe heating solution for your home.
In the rest of this article, you will find a breakdown and explanation of precautions to take when using baseboard heaters. You will also find information on how both electric and hydronic baseboard heaters work and will gain a better understanding of ways to eliminate the risks that could be associated with these heaters.
Baseboard Heating Precautions
Baseboard heating is not the most popular heating source these days. However, many older homes do use baseboard heating. Without needing ductwork, baseboard heaters are one of the easiest heating solutions to install. Again, baseboard heating is generally considered safe, but let’s consider a few safety precautions that are necessary to take to reduce the risk of fire and burning.
Precaution #1: Fire Hazards and Prevention
Similar to any heating solution, without proper care and attention, there is a risk of fire and burning, particularly when flammable objects are nearby the heating source.
When installing baseboard heaters, it is important to ensure they are not installed near any electrical outlets. Also, they should be installed away from any long curtains or thick rugs or carpets.
Baseboard heaters work as cold air is drawn into the heater and coils inside of the heating unit then heat the air and release it upward back into the air. These units do not necessarily circulate air. By being sure all furniture, rugs, etc. are at least six inches away from the unit, the airflow will not be blocked, significantly reducing the risk of the unit overheating.
Precaution #2: Children
If you have young children in your home, you must monitor baseboard heaters and encourage children to play and stay away from the heating units. Baseboard heaters can be very hot to the touch and there is a risk of suffering from burns if touching an operating unit.
Arranging furniture toward the center of the room and away from the heaters is a way to encourage children to stay and play away from the heaters. Also, be sure children’s toys do not go near the heater as this may be another way to create a fire hazard. Similarly with children, also take caution with pets around baseboard heaters.
Precaution #3: Thermostat Control
There are a few different considerations that need to be taken when controlling the safe operation of baseboard heating units. First, all units should operate off of a single thermostat instead of having different thermostats for different units. Using a single thermostat to control your baseboard heaters will prevent your units from overheating.
Even though you may wish different rooms stay at different temperatures, using a single thermostat allows more control instead of different thermostats being influenced by different heating sources which may lead to units turning on or off unexpectedly.
Also, thermostats should be kept in a single setting. This will lead to more efficient heating and again eliminate the risk of the unit overheating. It is important to remember that turning the thermostat to a higher temperature will not heat your room more quickly.
Precaution #4: Safe Unit Installation and Location
There are a few things to consider when installing a baseboard heating unit to ensure safety. As noted above, installing away from any sort of curtain, rug, carpet, is important. Additionally, when considering things like furniture, a good rule of thumb is to allow at least twelve inches of space in front of the heater for the safest operation and airflow and most efficient heating.
As with any heating source or home appliance, it is important to seek help from licensed and qualified professionals and electricians to ensure the safest installation.
How Baseboard Heaters Work
Now after understanding specific precautions to be taken with baseboard heating, let’s discuss a bit more about how these units work. Baseboard heating works through a convection current. Convection currents are defined as the process that involves the movement of energy from one place to another.
Simply put, cold air falls into the baseboard through a vent. Then the air is warmed by metal heating elements that are inside the baseboard being heated through electricity. Then the warm air rises out of the unit. This process continuously repeats itself, creating a convection current.
Also, it is important to note there are two different types of baseboard heaters. The most common type of baseboard heater is an electric unit that uses the convection process just explained. However, there are also hot water baseboard heaters, also called hydronic baseboard heaters.
Hydronic baseboard heaters produce heat as small heating elements boil water and then release heat into the air. Hydronic baseboard heaters are perhaps the most efficient way to provide consistent heat to a home, however, installation is difficult and not practical for most of today’s homes.
Whether using an electric or hydronic baseboard heating system, safety precautions and considerations remain the same.
Baseboard Heater Protection Switches
If you are considering installing a new baseboard heater in your home, you will be happy to know that most current models come with a protection switch. These switches are thermal cutouts that will turn off the unit if it starts to reach a dangerous heat. These auto safety features will allow the heater to reactivate when the temperature returns to normal. These added features provide another level of assurance when considering the safety of baseboard heaters.
Although not as commonly used, baseboard heating is ultimately a safe option when considering a heating source for your home. Paying careful attention to things like fire hazards, effective installation, and thermostat control ensures the safest operation of these units.
Again, understanding the ways convection currents heat these units is important. And finally, as mentioned, auto safety features that are present in most current models provide additional peace of mind if you select baseboard heating. The added benefits of ease of installation, small size, and even heating make this safe heating solution enjoyable and effective.