Even in Texas, temperatures can drop into the single digits. Space heaters have long been a solution to ward off the chill, but they come with their own sets of issues. Specifically, space heaters have been known to cause house fires, whether from defective wiring or user error. Here, we focus on how defective space heaters have started fires, as well as five popular space heaters that have recently been recalled.
How Space Heaters Cause Fires
When a space heater’s thermostat malfunctions, it can cause fires. Every space heater comes with a thermostat that enables it to regulate its own temperature. The thermostat in a space heater is linked with the electric component of the heater, and its responsible for alerting the system when the temperature gets too hot. If the system can’t accurately know the temperature, the space heater could raise the temperature in an unsafe, unregulated way. This causes the electrical wiring and components to overheat and catch fire. Anything touching the space heater (carpets, woods, flooring) will also then catch fire.
Inadequate or Defective Materials
The materials found inside a space heater must be properly installed, must have a long “life” (meaning they won’t wear down over time), and must not be flammable. Low quality rubbers and adhesives used inside the space heater can catch fire if they come in contact with the heating components or wear away over time.
Furthermore, a chain reaction can occur: first, the material catches fire; then the electrical wiring catches fire; finally, because the electrical wiring that regulates the space heater is malfunctioning, the space heater could catch fire and in effect a general fire can occur.
Users who set up their space heaters too close to beds, curtains, etc. can accidently cause a fire when their heaters overheat these objects. Similarly, pets or children that knock space heaters over onto a carpeted area can also lead to overheating. Modern day space heaters usually come with an automatic shut off button or a warning buzzer to alert users if the space heater has been tipped over, but older models may not.
Recalled Space Heaters
A significant number of space heaters that have been recalled for starting fires or because of a flaw that may cause for a fire to start. The most popular space heaters that have been recalled are:
- CE North America KUL Fan Heaters, recalled in February 2016,
- Portable Space Heaters, recalled in February 2015,
- Sunbeam Oil-Filled Heater, recalled in January 2015,
- Vornado Air Electric Space Heaters, recalled in August 2014, and
- Sunbeam Holmes Ceramic Heaters, recalled in May 2014.
If any of these brands or models have been recalled, make sure to contact the company who manufactured these products and the store that you purchased these products. More importantly, make sure that these products are off, unplugged, and in a secure place to prevent fire hazards.