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Dealing With Some Common Space Heater Problems

Has your space heater stopped working? Are you experiencing some weird behavior from your heater such as a grating noise or constant on and off cycling? Or, maybe you’re thinking of getting a space heater and you’re wondering what you can expect from it.

Below, we’ll go over all the main space heater problems you might encounter, their causes, as well as how best to deal with them. Space heaters are generally a pretty neat and effective way to heat a small room, especially when they are of a high enough quality, so making sure that they work as well as possible is pretty important.

Space heater keeps shutting off

There are many different reasons why a space heater might keep shutting off repeatedly. It’s possible that the thermostat of the unit isn’t set high enough or is simply malfunctioning, it may be that the unit itself is overheating and needs to be reset, or there might be tip-over safety protection that’s being triggered. If neither of those is the case, then you likely have a bigger problem on your hands and you’d do well to call a professional.

Space heater smells like burning plastic or something else

If your space heater smells like burning something peculiar then that might be a problem. Then again, it may just be because you haven’t used your heater in a while. It all depends on exactly what the cause is and the smell can be a good indicator of how serious the problem is.

  1. If it smells like burning plastic or rubber then you’ve got a problem. This likely means that a foreign object such as a toy has made its way into the heater and is burning due to the intense heat. Burning plastic or rubber tends to give off quite toxic fumes and can cause problems for the heater as well so you’ll do best to turn off the heater immediately and inspect it thoroughly.
  2. If it smells like electrical burning then the problem might be even more serious. It could be that you’ve overheated the blower motor or the wiring has been damaged. Either way, you should stop the heater immediately, open it up when it cools off, and inspect the situation. If you’re unsure of what’s the problem, contact a professional.
  3. If it smells like burning dust then the likely cause is that you haven’t used the heater in a while and there’s some dust in it that will burn off relatively quickly. To avoid this it’s best to maintain your heater in a good shape at all times but that smell should disappear fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, the problem lies somewhere else.
  4. If it has a musty smell then there’s probably some mold or mildew in the heater. This also happens when you haven’t used the heater for a while and you haven’t stored it probably. To fix the problem you should turn off and clean the heater immediately as you definitely don’t want to breathe in mold spores.

Space heater keeps blowing fuses

So, how to prevent space heater from blowing fuses too frequently? There are several possible causes for that problem so let’s go over all of them one by one:

  1. You’re overloading the fuse. Each fuse or circuit is rated for a specific number of amps such as 15, 20, 30, 40, etc., with 20 amps being the most common case. Most fuses are also dedicated to a specific major appliance such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher as they can’t handle too many appliances at once. So, when you connect the heater to a fuse that’s already working near its maximum capacity, it’s easy to overload it. A 1,500W space heater, for example, uses 12.5 amps, so if you connect it to your 15-amp fuse that’s already used by your refrigerator, you’re going to have a bad time. Running the heater at a lower setting can help with the issue but the best thing to do is to not use two major appliances on the same fuse at the same time.
  2. The wiring of the heater is faulty and it’s overheating the fuse/circuit. If that’s the case then the heater is drawing more electricity than it should and you’d do best to just throw it away or give it to a technician.
  3. The heater is on an extension cord. This can be a problem as extension cords often can’t handle the demands of space heaters and can cause the breakers to trip. Or, even worse, to start a fire. That’s one of the main reasons why the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is on record that they are against the unnecessary and careless use of extension cords.

Space heater gives off a grating noise

Good modern space heaters are made to be near noiseless so if you hear a grating noise from your heater that’s likely because one of its parts has gone loose or the blower wheel has been damaged. Either way, you’ll want to turn the heater off, look for the problem, and either replace the damaged component or stop using the heater.

Space heater has a poor airflow

Clogged or dirty filters are the most common cause of this problem. This isn’t just annoying as it limits the capabilities of the heater but, if left unchecked, this problem can lead to a damaged limit switch or to the heater overheating. Either way, regular maintenance is the best way to avoid this problem.

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