Easy Fixes for Electric Heaters

June 30, 2015

Don't be left out in the cold this winter with a faulty electric heater. Keep your heater in top working condition with these simple maintenance tips.

Easy Fixes for Electric Heaters

There’s a burning smell coming from my electric heater

Give it a winter clean

Over the summer, dust will accumulate on electric elements. When the heater is switched on during cool weather, the dust will burn.

  • To clean it, unplug the heater and use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner on low power, a soft lint-free cloth or a small paintbrush to dust any visible heater elements and clean the grille. If possible, open the casing of the heater and do the same on the exposed elements. Lift the fan (if present) off its spindle and brush its surfaces clear of dust before reassembling the heater.
  • If you have a radiant heater (one with a silica-glass element, which resembles a glass tube), lightly dust the glass frequently with a clean lint-free cloth. Avoid touching the glass with your fingers because the oils present on human skin will burn onto the tube.

My storage heater is cold

Get the best from its settings

Electrical storage heaters use cheaper "low-rate" electricity available at night to heat up bricks or ceramic blocks. This stored heat is then released when needed during the day. Most have two controls, usually on the top right-hand side of the heater.

  • The input or charge control regulates how much heat is stored. In very cold weather, set this dial to maximum. When it's milder, choose a lower setting. The output, room temperature or boost control regulates how much "stored" heat is released by opening and closing the flap behind the front grille. The higher the number you choose, the more the flap opens, giving more heat.
  • For the most economical heating, leave the output control on a low setting during the day (when you are out). Turn it up in the evening or when you come home if you need more heat. Turn it back to the lowest setting before you go to bed.


Electric heaters are a convenient and quick source of extra heat, but used carelessly they can be a serious fire risk. Follow these simple rules to stay safe.

  • Never cover any part of a heater while it is in use or still warm and make sure that it is not too close to curtains or other soft furnishings.
  • Always switch off and unplug an electric heater at the very first sign of a problem and leave it to cool for at least half an hour before you tackle any kind of repair. Keep an eye on it as it cools in case the appliance has a serious electrical fault and is on fire internally.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu