A radiator is one of the critical components in making long winters bearable and cozy. However, these systems can become significant fire hazards without proper care. Whether you have an electric space heater or central gas heating, radiators require certain levels of maintenance and precaution to be safe.
A radiator can cause a fire. Both gas and electric radiators may start fires for different reasons. Poor care of a gas radiator and proximity to flammable materials can cause combustion. Old, cheap electric radiators risk becoming fire hazards due to overheating and short circuits.
This article will further discuss the causes behind heating system fires and the many precautions you can take to avoid them. I will also answer some common questions related to radiators and tell you home-heating fire facts.
How The Most Common Types of Radiators Start Fires
You can divide radiators into categories based on the kind of heat source they rely on, their dissipation system, and the conducting mechanism.
Still, the most common types of radiators are gas and electric.
1. Gas Radiator
Traditional gas radiators are most commonly found in central heating systems.
They use fuel to heat water, which then creates steam.
This steam heats the air. Since hot air rises, it will move up and out through ceiling and wall vents.
Although steam cannot catch fire, poor maintenance of the central heating furnace and dust and debris buildup might create a fire hazard.
If flammable material is close to a faulty heating vent, the chances of combustion are even higher.
2. Electric Radiator
Electric radiators use convection to create heat that escapes through radiation.
Many people are now opting for electric heating systems that use electric radiators due to lower maintenance costs and custom thermostat controls.
However, cheaper and older models lack modern safety features, making them high-risk fire hazards.
The leading causes of fires associated with electric radiators are overheating and short circuits.
Old or cheaply made electric radiators lack safety controls that prevent overheating.
Combined with faulty wiring, that can easily make room for a short circuit, leading to fires if flammable materials are nearby.
Safety Tips To Reduce Risk of Fire and Injury
- Have your heating units inspected by HVAC professionals yearly before the winter months.
- Vacuum the areas around your heating units to prevent the build-up of dust and debris.
- Only use portable electric heaters on flat surfaces.
- Keep flammable items at least 3.2 feet (1 meter) away from the heating source.
- Purchase electric heaters from trustworthy retailers and always check the safety features for automatic shutoff and any precautions you should take.
- Plug electric heaters directly into electric sockets, and don’t use extension cords or power strips.
- Always power off or unplug your radiator when not in use.
- Make sure electric sockets are not damaged.
- Do not place or install electronics directly over top of heating vents.
- Make sure smoke detectors are up and running before the winter months.
Can a Radiator Cause Paper To Catch on Fire?
A radiator can cause paper to catch on fire.
If you place a piece of paper near a faulty heating vent, the hot air from the vent might make the paper so warm that it goes up in flames.
Keep all vents clear and clean to prevent fire hazards.
Are Curtains a Fire Hazard When Placed Near Radiators?
Curtains are a fire hazard when placed near radiators.
Prolonged exposure to radiator heat can dry out the curtain and increase the chances of combustion.
In terms of electric radiators, faulty wiring or a short circuit near a flammable fabric, such as a curtain, can significantly increase the odds of fire.
Can You Dry Clothing on Top or Near Radiators?
You cannot dry clothing on top of or near radiators.
As tempting as it may be to quickly dry out clothing on or near a radiator in the winter months, it is highly discouraged.
Like curtains, flammable materials such as fabric close by or on top of heating vents can increase the chances of combustion, especially if left unsupervised.
Radiator Fire Facts
- Based on 2014-2018 averages, 80% of home fire deaths involved portable space heaters.
- Based on 2014-2018 averages, the leading factor that causes fires in heating systems was poor maintenance.
- Faulty heating systems caused 1 in 7 home structure fires reported from 2014-2018.
Although radiators can pose a risk for potential fires, they are essential in winter.
Be sure to purchase radiators from trusted sellers and follow the heating directions strictly.
Following the proper precautions and regular maintenance, you can safely operate gas and electric radiators with little risk of combustion.
Cheers, tools owners!