What Is the Fire Risk of Oil Heaters?

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Oil space heaters are compact devices used to heat small areas, such as bedrooms, and include a sealed compartment that stores special oil. Oil-filled heaters have devices that heat the oil, which stays warm long after the heating component is turned off. Malfunctioning oil heaters can pose a fire hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 house fires annually are associated with space heaters.

Safety Features

Many oil heaters come with thermostats and optional automatic shut-off features to decrease the risk of fire if the unit tips over.

Poor Electrical Connections

An internal memorandum from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that the failure of electrical connections in the heater's thermostat could cause the device to overheat and could possibly lead to a fire.

Unsuitable Oil

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) found that oil heaters filled with unsuitable oil, such as oil with a low flash point, can present a risk of fire.

Warning

Use only the recommended oil for your heater. Never fill oil heaters while the unit is on or hot.

Tip

If you suspect that your oil heater is malfunctioning, discontinue use immediately and return it to the point of purchase.

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