4 Natural Gas Wall Heater Safety Tips
More efficient than other types of portable heaters, a natural gas wall heater is an effective method for warming a room not connected to a structure's main furnace system. Whether in a garage, barn or other outbuilding, natural gas burns cleaner than other combustible fuels and is more cost effective than electricity. Because fuel combusts to produce heat with natural gas wall heaters, there are potentially-harmful byproducts, including carbon monoxide. For this reason, safety is of the utmost importance when installing, using and maintaining this type of wall heater. Consider the following tips:
- Vented over unvented
- Current, sealed combustion model
- Properly installed
- Annually tested
Vented vs. Unvented
Other combustible fuels, such as kerosene, have been banned by most states for indoor, unvented use. The same is true for unvented natural gas heaters, but in far fewer locations. Basically, vented natural gas wall heaters have an attached duct that connects to the exhaust valve of the heater and empties outside. Unvented heaters do not have this feature. However, unvented natural gas heaters include an oxygen depletion sensor which will shut the unit off when too little oxygen is detected in the room. Unvented heaters, if allowed in a particular state, should only ever be used in spaces such as a garage or workshop where a door is always open. This is an important safety measure, but it also tends to make unvented models much less efficient. For that reason, vented natural gas wall heaters are always preferable.
Finding the Right Model
Once deciding that a vented natural gas wall heater is the right choice, finding the right model is the next task. Most importantly, don't skimp and save when shopping. Choose a model from the most current selection, one that possess all standard safety features, quality components and features the U.L. listing prominently. This indicates that the unit has been thoroughly tested and approved by an agency that creates standards in the industry. Look for vented models that feature fully-sealed combustion or that indicate "100 percent outdoor air".
Because the installation involves connecting a home or structure's natural gas line to the heater, installation should be done by a professional. Unless one has specific experience working with a gas line, it is not advisable to "wing it". A faulty connection, improper seal or vent can result in hazardous carbon monoxide leaking into a space. Ultimately, this can be fatal if left unchecked. While it will cost some money, hiring a gas company technician or private contractor to install a natural gas wall heater ensures the job will be done properly.
Make a point of hiring a professional technician to annually inspect a natural gas wall heater. Checking for leaks, proper seals and venting and overall functionality of the device will not only help to keep the heater in good working order, but it will also keep you from experiencing any ill effects of a CO leak. For homes with a central natural gas furnace, an inspection should be routine. It won't be much more trouble or expense to have a technician check each natural gas wall heater as well.