Are Baseboard Heaters Safe – Government Study

There are a lot of heating options to choose from to warm up your home in the winter, one of the foremost being a baseboard heater. Considering how hot a baseboard heater can get, you might be wondering if it is safe to use.

Are Baseboard Heaters Safe? A baseboard heater is safe if its thermostat is functioning properly and if curtains or drapes are not touching the heater. There is a risk of fire if fabric touches the baseboard heater while it is hot.

In a paper by the US Department of Commerce, some curtains can catch fire at 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Since baseboard heaters can get as hot as 185 degrees, it is necessary to keep all curtains away from your baseboard heater for safety.

Pros and Cons of Baseboard Heaters

Here is a table that highlights the pluses and misuses of baseboard heaters. Data was derived from various household forums online.

Pros of Baseboard HeatersCons of Baseboard Heaters
Great for landlords that wish to have their tenants pay for heat.Baseboard heating dries out the air making it necessary to use a humidifier.
The air is cleaner than when using a furnace or a boiler.Your electricity bill increases when using electric baseboard heaters.
Less maintenance with baseboard heaters than having a furnace to heat.A baseboard heater will limit the space available in a room since you cannot push furniture up against it.
You regulate the temperature of each baseboard heater using thermostats. You must ensure that curtains do not touch the baseboard heater.

Is It Safe to Leave Baseboard Heaters on All the Time?

It might be safe to leave your baseboard heater on all the time depending on the type of heater, if it has a thermostat, and if there is no item blocking its path.

Most people find winter to be fun since there are a lot of cool adventures to be had. However, the fun parts of winter are limited to the outdoors, since having warmth within your house is especially important. Enter baseboard heaters. The function of a baseboard heater is to provide heat within a building, making them essential for cold seasons.

Despite how useful a baseboard heater is, it produces prominent levels of heat, raising questions about its operation. Naturally, you might be wondering if it is safe for your baseboard heater to be switched on round the clock. Whether or not your baseboard heater can be on all the time depends on its type.

Based on structure and operation, there are two types of baseboard heaters – hydronic and convection. Here is an explanation of how they function and how it relates to the question posed above.

  • Convection Baseboard Heaters

Convection baseboard heaters are the most common heater type, and they function like most other heating devices. A convection baseboard heater has a coil and when power is supplied to the heater in the form of electricity, the coil gets heated up. I recommend the Cadet Electric Baseboard Heater that is available on Amazon. Click here to have yours delivered to your front door.

Then, the heater pulls in cold air from the room and passes it over the coil, raising the temperature of the air, then passing out the warm air. When this process is repeated consistently, after a while, the cold air in a room will be replaced by hot air, raising the temperature.

  • Hydronic Baseboard Heaters

Like its convection counterpart, a hydronic baseboard heater also uses electricity to generate heat. However, instead of using this heat to directly warm air, the heat is transferred to a fluid contained in the heater. This fluid, which is usually water or oil, is enclosed in the heater and does not need to be refilled

A hydronic heater system has pipes that channel the heated fluid around the room. The heated liquid in these pipes then radiates heat about the room, raising the overall temperature.

From the above explanations, it is obvious that the functions of hydronic and convection heaters are similar, yet distinct. One standout feature that baseboard heaters have is a thermostat. The function of a thermostat is to measure and display the temperature of a device and allow you to set a temperature level that you want.

When you input the required temperature on your baseboard heater’s thermostat, it will heat your room to that temperature, then switch it off for a while. This feature means that you can safely leave your heater turned on for a long while since it will switch itself off at some point.

The function of a thermostat is more notable in convection baseboard heaters since they cool down quickly. However, a hydronic heater will take longer to cool down since the fluids need to lose their heat. So, if absolute safety is your priority, a convection baseboard heater with a properly functioning thermostat might be your best choice.

Is It Ok to Put Furniture in Front of a Baseboard Heater?

You can put furniture in front of a baseboard heater if you maintain a distance of at least 12 inches. The distance between the heater and furniture is necessary to prevent a fire outbreak.

Setting up items in your home can be a hassle, particularly if there isn’t a lot of room to place appliances and furniture. If you own a baseboard heater, you should note that items should not be placed too close to the heater. If you are still looking for a baseboard heater, I suggest the Dimplex Heater that is available at Walmart. Click here to have yours delivered to your front door.

When furniture or flammable materials, in general, are touching a heater, they might catch fire, depending on how flammable they are and how hot the heater is. Some heaters can get as hot as 185 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is hot enough to set some items ablaze. To avoid such a scenario, it is best if all items are placed at least 12 inches away from your heater for safety.

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Baseboard Heaters?

You cannot get carbon monoxide poisoning from your baseboard heater. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned, and this does not happen in a baseboard heater.

Carbon monoxide is a worrisome chemical compound since inhaling it can affect the circulation of oxygen in the body, leading to unconsciousness and sometimes, death. Carbon monoxide also plays a major function in the depletion of the ozone layer by affecting the volume of greenhouse gases.

As dangerous as carbon monoxide seems, it is even scarier because a lot of inventions including cars, bikes, and generators give off carbon monoxide, meaning it is all around us. Naturally, you might be worried that your baseboard heater is also giving off carbon monoxide since that could be disastrous for your health.

To understand why your baseboard heaters do not expose you to carbon monoxide, you first need to understand how carbon monoxide is produced in the first place. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of the combustion of fuel and it is given off when the combustion process is incomplete.

Different fuel types like gas, petroleum, wood, diesel, and coal can all give off carbon monoxide when burned. Baseboard heaters, however, do not make use of any of these fuels to function. The only energy source that is used in a baseboard heater is electricity, meaning no combustion process will eventually give off carbon monoxide.

While you are safe from carbon monoxide poisoning if you are using a baseboard heater, the case might be different if you are using other heater types. If your house’s heater makes use of fuels to produce heat, then you might need to consider the possibility that you are inhaling carbon monoxide.

Some of these heater types to be wary of include gas heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, and kerosene heaters. For maximum safety, you can install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and this will alert you if the carbon monoxide levels in your home get high, protecting you from poisoning.

Are Baseboard Heaters Safe for Babies?

Baseboard heaters are not safe for babies since they can get extremely hot, meaning they can cause burns if a toddler touches them. You can protect your child using a baseboard heater safety cover.

When choosing a home appliance, safety should be a priority, particularly when you have babies around. A baseboard heater produces a lot of heat to warm up your room, and it is hot enough to cause burns to an adult, meaning a baby is not safe either.

When considering the elevated temperature of baseboard heaters, your major concern is not little infants, but babies that are already starting to move about, either by crawling or walking. The best way to protect your kid from a baseboard heater is to ensure that they never go near the outlet.

Alternatively, you can purchase a baseboard heater safety cover, as this covers up the hottest parts of a baseboard heater, reducing the likelihood of getting a burn. In case your child gets a burn from touching your baseboard heater, you can follow some quick first aid steps or contact emergency health services.

Can Hot Water Baseboard Heaters Cause Fires?

Your hot water baseboard heater cannot cause a fire even if you place a flammable object too close to the heater. There is a risk of burns since the temperature of the metal can reach 180 degrees.

Using a baseboard heater is a mostly straightforward process since most products are not difficult to operate and maintain. However, you still need to pay a lot of attention to the function of your baseboard heater since the device’s main duty is providing heat, meaning there is always a risk of fires or burns.

Hot water baseboard heaters are officially called hydronic baseboard heaters and use heated fluids to transfer warmth to your room. If faulty or mismanaged, there is always a possibility that the heater could cause a fire. This possibility is quite low since baseboard heaters are safe, but fires can still occur if things go wrong.

Precautions to take when heating with electric baseboard heaters

There are some precautions to be taken that will ensure that you and your home remain safe. These precautions which are listed below are necessary for whatever type of electric baseboard heater you are using.

  • Baseboard Heaters Need Space

One thing to note about baseboard heaters is that they should be given a lot of space in your room. This means that household items like curtains, tables, chairs, and doors should not be placed too close to your baseboard heater, causing an obstruction.

It is recommended that all flammable items should be kept at least 12 inches away from your baseboard heater. If your baseboard heater is near an item like a toy, a piece of furniture, or any other flammable material, it can heat this item and start a fire.

Electrical outlets should also be installed far away from baseboard heaters. Most outlets have protective plastic coatings and frames that can be melted by your heater, leading to exposed electrical components. This exposure can make you vulnerable to electric shock and start a fire.

  • Thermostats Are Important

In a previous heading, we discussed how vital the function of a thermostat is in a heater. With a thermostat, you can input the temperature you want your heater to get to, and once it reaches that point, it stops heating any further.

Thermostats are necessary for a heater because they will stop your heater from getting to unsafe heat levels. If your thermostat gets faulty, then there will be “no limit” to how hot your heater will get. When a baseboard heater gets too hot, it becomes more likely for a fire to break out.

If you feel that your thermostat has developed an issue, you should contact the customer support of your heater’s company or hire a technician to help you fix it.

  • Keep The Heater Clean

The overall function of your baseboard heater can be improved if you clean it frequently. Proper maintenance does not only improve the lifespan and performance of a baseboard heater but also reduces the risk of a fire outbreak.

Also, it is important to clean not just the heater alone, but the area surrounding it. This clears the baseboard heater’s immediate vicinity of any items that might compromise its operation.

Even if a baseboard heater does not cause a fire, it can cause damage to household items. Toys and pieces of furniture can either get melted or scalded if they get too close to a very hot baseboard heater. This risk makes the precautions above even more important.

What Are Baseboard Heater Safety Covers?

A baseboard heater safety cover is a protective casing that keeps people and items from directly touching a baseboard heater’s hot surface. Thus, these safety covers reduce the risk of burns and fire outbreaks.

Baseboard heaters can get hot enough to cause burns and the best way to reduce the chance of this happening is to get a baseboard heater safety cover. These covers are often made from durable, rust-resistant materials and cover up the heating element which is the hottest part of your heater. I recommend the NeatHeat Heat Cover that is available on Amazon. Click here to have yours delivered to your front door.

Usually, the best baseboard heater safety covers such as those offered by the company Baseboarders (click here for pricing) are easy to install and do not require complex tools to be set up. Apart from the protective function of baseboard heater safety covers, they can also be used for decoration purposes.

If your baseboard heater is old and has been used for a long while, it might not look appealing, ruining your home’s overall appearance. To remedy this situation, some companies manufacture baseboard heater safety covers that are good-looking, giving you a blend between functionality and aesthetics.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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