Managing Your HVAC System

Space Heaters: A Closer Look At Temporary Heating While Waiting For Your HVAC Technician

When you are rolled in heating blankets and desperately trying to stay warm while waiting for an HVAC technician to come and repair your furnace, you can use a number of different portable heaters to keep your house warm. The following selection of heaters are available for sale from most home improvement, hardware, and big box stores. Just make sure you heed the warnings on the boxes/in the instructions when using these heaters.

Box Heaters with Heating Coils

This type of space heater is about the size of a small box of cereal. The case is heat-resistant plastic or cool-to-the-touch metal. You can see straight inside the heater and see the wire coils within. When this heater is plugged in, a fan behind the heating coils begins whirring, and the coils turn red hot. It is safe to run this heater for short duration, but you should never leave it running all night or unattended. Keep it away from blankets and soft furniture such as sofas and mattresses.

Oil Heaters

Oil heaters use small amounts of heating oil. While these are generally safe for short-term use, you should know that they absolutely have to be ventilated to the outdoors. Otherwise they build up a lot of carbon monoxide and dioxide while they burn oil, and that can be very dangerous in a non-ventilated space. The only other option is to run these heaters with the windows open a crack, and that defeats the purpose of heating your home in winter.

Kerosene Heaters

These heaters are a little outdated, but you can still buy them. They burn kerosene, which has zero smell. That might be nice until you realize that these heaters need good cross-ventilation as well. 

Propane Heaters

Propane heaters burn the cleanest. They do not need ventilation, as long as there are no leaks in the small portable propane tank or in the heater itself. You will be able to tell if there is a leak because propane is artificially scented with sulfur to give it that "wonderful" rotten egg smell when it leaks into the air. If you do not smell the rotten egg smell, then the propane tank and the heater are not leaking and they are safe to use temporarily in enclosed spaces. 

An example of a propane heater is a camping heater, or camper heater. These are often used inside tents, outside camping, and inside RVs and campers when it is really cold out. If they are safe enough for these purposes, they are safe enough to keep you toasty until your furnace repair technician arrives. Contact a service, like Astro Air Inc, for more help.