Electric Fireplace Safety and Maintenance Tips
Electric fireplaces are safe when you follow the manufacturer’s instructions—especially the section about cords and electrical outlets. This article will demystify electricity for you to be safe and gain knowledge about electrical energy.
Electric fireplaces are installed in homes, offices, school dorms, RVs—any place there is a need and desire for the beauty and features of a fireplace, or as an efficient way to provide supplemental heat where you will have the aesthetics of the fireplace rather than a small space heater.
Electric fireplaces are a wonderful addition for adding supplemental heat to an elderly person’s living area, a baby’s nursery, or any one room when it’s not efficient to heat only one room with your central heating. Sometimes people sensitive to cold need additional heat without heating or overheating the entire house. It’s more cost-effective to supplement insufficient heat.
The heaters in electric fireplaces typically use a unit of energy known as BTU (British Thermal Unit). That means the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound (~ a pint) of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Most heaters operate by circulating the air in a room (convection). Some use radiant heat (infrared) that heats people and objects within the heater’s line of sight. Infrared fireplaces are more efficient when heating a room for lesser time. They are energy saving by heating the immediate surroundings and occupants rather than the entire room.
Hundreds of thousands of fires and deaths are reported due to residential fires and safety is a huge priority. Read on.
Ventless Electric Fireplaces
These are electrically more expensive to operate than combustion units, yet they have no vents or chimney requirements and are safe to operate inside your house. Concerns to air quality are not an issue, although they still present burn and fire hazards and should be used with caution. There is no real fire.
When you buy and install an electric fireplace, follow these general safety procedures:
You Ask, Do the Flames Get Hot?
No is your answer. Because you are not burning combustible fuel (wood logs, gas), and no open flame, your electric fireplace will need no venting to the outside air. The electric log set and fireplace inserts are safer and more efficient. The realistic flame effects are only an image or projection of flames provided by LED lights. When you touch the screen, it is as cool as touching your television when it’s on.
The only warm or hot areas are near the heating element or warm air blowing from the heater. It’s the same as holding your hand near a hair blow dryer. Nothing you touch will burn you like a wood burning fireplace or stove.
Even though usually safe for children and pets to be near, use care near the heater if it is close to children and those with physical disabilities or the elderly when the heater is in the on mode and left unattended.
Fire Extinguishers are Not Created Equal
When you buy an electric fireplace, buy a fire extinguisher at the same time. You can never be too safe with any electrical device or appliance. An extinguisher next to your hearth could save your life and house. Each year, fires cost millions in damages and kill hundreds of people.
Be sure to buy the right type. Electrical fire extinguishers have no effect on a wood fire.
Purchase from these five types. The first three apply to standard home uses:
The fire class is marked on each container. Choose an extinguisher for an electrical appliance, since that is what an electric fireplace is.
In addition to the letters indicating class of fire, fire extinguishers have numbers before the letters. Keep your extinguisher near your fireplace. Don’t like the looks? There are lovely boxes made specifically for extinguishers.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions, and have the extinguisher charged and checked at least every 5 years. Regularly check the pressure gauge. Shake the canister often to keep the contents mixed and ready to use.
To care for your electric fireplace, remove dust and vacuum inside and out of the firebox, including the control compartment inside. Use a mild dishwashing liquid to clean the glass when it is cold. Use nothing abrasive that will scratch the surface. Use a damp cloth immediately to clean up spills. Furniture polish and oils with lemon are not necessary since the faux wood is usually a laminate on the top finished surface. Do not use polishes on the faux rock fireplace cabinet.
Once again, never operate an electric fireplace with a damaged cord or plug, or a bad wall outlet. When the heater has been dropped, damaged, or functioning improperly, return it to the authorized service agency for mechanical or electrical repairs. Do not use it.
Enjoy your electric fireplace, follow the electrical requirements, and with proper maintenance and care, it will last for many years.