Can Baseboard Heaters Start Fires?

When you think of electric heaters, your mind might jump to the risk of fire. After all, anything that produces heat has the potential to ignite a fire if left unsupervised.

But do baseboard heaters have that risk? Is it safe to install them in your home? Keep reading to find out.

Do Baseboard Heaters Catch on Fire?

Yes, a baseboard heater can catch on fire.

Keep in mind, though, that not all baseboard heaters are dangerous. There are two types of baseboard heaters: steam heaters and electric heaters.

Baseboard heaters can catch on fire if they’re installed poorly, neglected, or misused. Nevertheless, there are some differences between them that can help you decide which is best for you.

How Hot Do Baseboard Heaters Get?

The amount of heat that a baseboard heater puts out will vary depending on the model.

Generally speaking, though, you can expect even the most powerful electric baseboard heaters to put out around 55,000 BTUs. Most steam baseboard heaters, on the other hand, put out around 80,000 BTUs.

The thing to remember is that heat travels in three dimensions. You don’t just get it from the front. If you want to figure out what the temperature is in a specific spot in your house, you’ll have to take into account how hot the air is (plus any additional heat sources), what the walls are made of, and how far it is from the heater.

How Close Can You Put Things to a Baseboard Heater?

When it comes to heaters, the farther away an object is from the heater, the better.

It’s because heat travels in three directions naturally. Heat can damage your valuables, so keep them as far away from it as possible.

All your valuables should be kept at least two feet away from the source of heat no matter what heater you’re using.

How to Make Baseboard Heaters Safer

You can make your baseboard heaters safer by keeping your house well-insulated, installing smoke detectors, and keeping an eye on your appliances.

You should also keep your home free of debris that can cause a fire, and turn off the heater if you’re going away. Keep all electrical outlets covered with childproof plugs if you have children. Baseboard heaters are especially dangerous.

Keep an eye out for wear and tear, too. If you hear weird sounds from your heater, or if it’s not working properly, it’s time to replace it.

Can You Hang Curtains in Front of Baseboard Heating?

Place curtains at least 36 inches away from heat sources if you want to block the light and heat from sunlight.

Curtains can regulate your indoor climate, but if you have a baseboard heater nearby, you’ll want to keep them much farther away. The height of the curtains is also important, along with the distance from the heater.

The heat from below can easily start a fire if they’re too low.

Can Electric Baseboard Heaters Set Curtains on Fire?

A cotton or polyester (both flammable materials) curtain that’s too close to an electric baseboard heater could catch fire.

However, if you keep the curtains at least two feet away from the heat source, you shouldn’t have a problem. Alternatively, you can hang them from the ceiling with clips or place them behind a bar, or simply choose a more fire-resistant fabric like wool or synthetic.

Also read: Do Baseboard Heaters Get Hot Enough to Start a Fire?