Q: What are the safety considerations for putting a space heater in the garage? The kids need a play area when it's wet and cold, and it...
Q: What are the safety considerations for putting a space heater in the garage?
The kids need a play area when it’s wet and cold, and it seems like the garage ends up being one of those places for those of us without basements.
I want to be sure that fumes or other considerations related to a space heater do not create a dangerous situation. I’m also concerned about blocking off the furnace.
A: Putting a space heater in a garage should come with a few caveats.
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First, when you say “space heater,” you are referring to an electric heater, right? There are no exhaust fumes from an electric heater.
Fossil-fuel-burning space heaters do have fumes, however, and in some cases, a lot of nasty fumes.
Do not use an unvented kerosene/diesel heater in an enclosed area, particularly with children.
The second caveat relates to the other items you might have stored in the garage: flammables such as paints, cleaners, solvents, fuels, etc.
Your home’s furnace and water heater, which I presume are gas-fired, should have been installed with their source of spark or flame more than 18 inches from the ground. This is to prevent ignition of fumes from cars and other items that are present in the typical garage.
To be sure you are safe from inadvertent ignition of fumes, place the electric heater off the ground and mount it securely, such as on a workbench. Don’t add weather stripping or otherwise seal the garage. A tightly sealed garage could contribute to carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Finally, do not block off a gas furnace or water heater so tightly that air cannot get to it. They need air for combustion and exhaust.
Darrell Hay is a local home inspector and manages several rental properties. Send home maintenance questions to email@example.com. Sorry, no personal replies.