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This is Space Heater Fire Season
Did you know--a normal space heater running at full strength at 1,500 watts is using the same amount of power as FIFTEEN 100-watt light bulbs? Most people worry about something close to a space heater catching on fire. But what about a fire that starts inside your walls where you can't even see it when it starts?

For older homes with lots of low-rated 15-amp circuits driving the wall outlets, one space heater maxes out your whole circuit. Constantly blowing fuses causes many home owners to jam a higher-rated fuse into a circuit and setting up the stage for a wiring-related fire. For knob-and-tube and aluminum wiring in older homes, this is a recipe for a very hard to stop uncontrollable electrical fire.

One thing that should be in your disaster prep is homeowner's insurance. All dwelling policies cover fire. In a dense neighborhood, fires spread from house to house if a house flashes over, and nothing starts fires like careless use of space heaters.

It's a major plague in Philly every winter and it happens elsewhere a lot, too. If you know someone who uses space heaters to augment heating or worse... they deploy an armada of space heaters throughout the home as a replacement for central heating, they should be aware of how to operate the damn things with some common f___king sense.

I just had a home go up in flames a block over from me in what was probably a heater-induced fire, and this morning another man about a mile away from me was killed by one of these things.

Space heater basics:
My girlfriend has a freezing cold bedroom and is talking about getting a space heater. I'm going to make her read the article first. I use them sometimes but am always in the room with it.
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JasonK007;46159 Wrote:My girlfriend has a freezing cold bedroom and is talking about getting a space heater. I'm going to make her read the article first. I use them sometimes but am always in the room with it.

If she's determined to put in a space heater, determine if the room has 20A going to the outlets. If you got 20A instead of 15A you're in good shape. If it's 15A to that whole room and all the outlets are in tandem on that same line, you'll need separate service added to that room if you got other power-hungry stuff in there like an entertainment center, computer, etc. Newer homes tend to have service nicely segregated out.

If you have knob and tube you have got to be extremely careful where you plug that thing in.

Older homes tend to be unpredictable and crazy. I had a 1952 house and all the outlets along all the floors in the front wall of the house joined together as a single circuit at the fuse box at 15A. Entertainment center plugged into living room on the ground floor, Christmas lights outside hooked up to basement outlet and bedroom on 2nd floor all sharing a 15A.

Turned out when the panel was replaced that I lucked out--all the lines going to the outlets were simply joined up at the panel and were not actually wired together, plus the wire gauge to everything was all 20A wire. When I was done with the upgrade, what used to be a 4-socket fuse box was turned over into a 35 circuit breaker panel with only 4 new lines of service added, everything else in the house was separated out.

The back of the house had the same problem. Fridge, microwave sharing a 20A line with two outlets in a dining room in the back of the house and one outlet in an upstairs bedroom in the back of the house. Space heater would blow a fuse whenever the microwave was turned on for more than 1 minute with the heater up on full blast and the compressor to the fridge was on. Turned out later that the kitchen had 4 lines joined up with the 2 other lines serving the other two rooms elsewhere in the house.

Every single house in that neighborhood--thousands of homes, had the same crappy 4-socket el-cheapo fuse configuration as my home at time of construction--back when the heaviest load people put on their wiring was just a washing machine and a single window unit and maybe a TV. New panel plus line separation was $800 but it eliminated all the wiring problems in the house.

But like I said--wiring is one thing, ignition is another. Space heaters cause fires behind the walls, not just shit that's too close catching on fire. Failure to recognize both risks is usually what causes an accident.
JasonK007;46159 Wrote:My girlfriend has a freezing cold bedroom and is talking about getting a space heater. I'm going to make her read the article first. I use them sometimes but am always in the room with it.

Check out these links:
I'm sure people would be happy to have someone come over and re-wire their house for free so they can more safely use space heaters....they're using them precisely because they don't have the money for a modern central heating system.

PS: Baseboard electric heaters are just glorified space heaters.

PSS: My whole firehouse is electric....i got a $950 electric bill one month the first winter i had the place! o.O The double pane laminated hurricane windows i put in have made a huge, huge difference in that regard since they were installed.
Wow that's scary. We live in an older house and I use space heaters sometimes between fall/winter before we want to turn on the heat...or on extra cold days so as not to turn up the heat too far and use so much oil.

We only have one fuse that goes in the house....for some reason our kitchen is wired weird and we cannot use the microwave at the same time as any appliance across the kitchen. I'm not sure though about the place we usually use our space heater, in the living room. However I'm really the only one who uses the heater, and usually I set it by my feet while I'm on the computer or something...never overnight. Or we just have them as prep for if the power goes out in the winter so we can hook them up to our generator.
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