Find the perfect space heater for your home

September 22, 2015

Space heaters can supplement a central air system, or they can be the main heat source in areas that have short, mild winters. Here are some helpful tips for choosing a space heater that is perfect for your home.

Find the perfect space heater for your home

1. Operating electric space heaters

There are two types of electric space heaters — radiative and convective.

  • Radiative electric heaters are either filled with liquid or have a shiny metal reflector that radiates heat into the room.
  • Convective heaters have a fan that blows out heat.

As a general rule, radiative heaters work best in large rooms; convective units in smaller, clearly defined areas. You should always be cautious when cleaning or repairing a heater.

  • Always unplug an electric heater before maintaining or repairing it.
  • If it is wired directly, remove the fuse or flip off the circuit breaker that controls it.
  • Clean an electric heater regularly.
  • Vacuum it and wipe it with a damp rag, especially if you have not used it for a while. Heated dust can cause a nasty odour and may even be a fire hazard.

One common problem with electric heaters is that the heat cuts on and off sporadically, or does not produce heat at all. If so, here are some solutions:

  • Unplug it and carefully examine the plug and the power cord.
  • If the cord's insulation is burned, cracked or worn — even if it just has a small nick — replace it.

No heat or erratic heating may also signal a faulty on-off switch or thermostat.

  • If the control panel is easily opened, you can replace either of these parts or the power cord, as on any other small appliance.
  • The switch is usually held by a slide clip that you pry off with a screwdriver or by spring clips that you squeeze together to push the switch through the panel.
  • The thermostat is usually held by a nut that you unscrew after pulling off the knob.
  • To order a replacement part, call the manufacturer's toll-free 1-800 number.
  • Look for your heater's model number on a metal plate on the heater before you call so you're sure to get a matching part.
  • Otherwise, take the heater to a service centre recommended by the manufacturer.

2. Risks of kerosene heaters

It's best to avoid kerosene heaters, which are doubly dangerous because of the harmful combustion fumes they emit and the flammability of the fuel.

  • Unvented and portable units are especially hazardous.
  • If you must use a kerosene space heater, make sure it's a fixed unit that has both fresh-air and exhaust vents.
  • Take extra care when storing the kerosene.

3. Benefits of gas heaters

A gas heater is expensive to install but may save money in the long run.

  • A gas space heater must be vented; an unvented unit emits dangerous combustion fumes and violates the housing code in nearly all areas.
  • On a properly vented unit, harmful fumes are exhausted outdoors through a direct vent in the wall or through a flexible flue. If you have any doubts about the safety of a gas space heater, don't hesitate to have it checked.
  • You can install a carbon monoxide detector in case the vent becomes blocked.

As with other heaters, you must clean a gas space heater regularly.

  • With the gas off, remove the cover and vacuum out any dust, using a brush attachment and a crevice tool.
  • If the unit has a pilot light, adjust the flame so that it burns smoothly without sputtering.
  • If the burner has an air shutter, adjust the air-gas mixture so that it has a well-balanced flame, as on a gas furnace.

Regardless of which heater you decide to use in your home, regular cleaning and maintenance is always necessary. This will ensure the efficiency of the product and help keep you safe. Keep these helpful tips in mind to make sure you purchase the best space heater for your home.

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.
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