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Propane Heaters and Safety

Heating and HVAC

When using propane heaters, there are some specific safety precautions to take. First, if you use propane to heat your home, whether it is through a main system or portable space heaters, be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors installed on each floor. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that all homes have carbon monoxide detectors installed, regardless of their heat source.

Although propane heaters have minimal levels of carbon monoxide, especially in comparison to several other fuels, having an early warning system is always prudent with even the smallest amounts. Remember, there does not have to be smoke or a fire for carbon monoxide to be present. You cannot see it, so you need detectors to ensure your safety. It is also recommended to have a good ventilation system in your home.

When it comes to propane heaters, never use unvented heaters indoors. These types of heaters vent their exhaust into the room. This can lead to increased carbon monoxide levels in your home. Unvented heaters are meant for outdoor use for porches, patios, camping etc. They should not be used for enclosed spaces. Indoor propane heaters must be installed so that they are able to vent exhaust outside of your house, and need to be cleaned regularly to make sure fumes are not trapped inside.

Also make sure that all hoses, nozzles and regulators are from the same manufacturer as the heater itself. Compatibility issues with other manufacturers could lead to leaks or damage to the heater and your home.

If you do happen to smell a leak, you should turn off the heater immediately. Make sure there are no open flames near the tank. Some propane heaters have a sensor to alert you if the pilot light goes out as an added convenience and safety measure. Each time you replace the cylinder you can check for leaks by cleaning the heater using warm water with soap. Do not use any corrosive or combustible liquids when cleaning the heater.

Portable propane heaters are commonly used for patio and outdoor heating, grilling, and even for heating pools. You can schedule deliveries from a supplier as needed, but there are also hardware stores, wholesale stores and other businesses that sell or refill propane tanks. It's usually a good idea to have a back-up tank for these devices though, especially if you do a lot of grilling in the summer months.

Propane is considered a safe and efficient energy source, especially for homes that don't have access to natural gas, and was even recognized by the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as an approved alternative fuel. These safety precautions are simply meant to prevent misuse and neglect of propane heating systems.

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