Electric Heater Safety

Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. Home Inspector Lic #207

Recently I read a post by Charles "Chuckie" Buell, where he talked about cords being run over electric heaters. I guess it was a coincidence but at an inspection recently, I ran into a great example of the "cord over the heater syndrome". It is a very common occurance in Bellingham. Problem is, people do not know that there is an inherent problem with the arrangement. Below is the language, and photos, straight from my report. 

"Electric outlets/receptacles are installed directly above bedroom and living room heaters. While this was a common installation practice a few years ago, it can be a significant safety hazard when cords are draped over the heaters -- which is the case in the living room. I recommend that the client consider having an electrician move the receptacles away from the heaters. Otherwise, make absolutely sure that cords do not run over the front of the heaters."


Cord over heater                                                                  Same heater, tested earlier in the day


Posted by

Steven L. Smith

If you enjoy nostalgia and music of yesteryear, click on Elvis' gold record to visit This Day In History. To explore The Stories Behind The Music blog posts click on the electric guitar. 








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Geoff ONeill
John L. Scott Medford - Medford, OR

No thought to placement by the electrician.  Even if it's not touching, you know the heater is drying out that cord.

Feb 02, 2011 03:39 PM #1
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

I fear electic heaters. I can never sleep if one is on....maybe a quick warm up the room in the morning...but that is about it.

Feb 02, 2011 04:23 PM #2
Sarasota & Manatee Counties FL
SaraMana Properties - QuickFreeMLS.com - Bradenton, FL
QuickFreeMLS.com - Listings In Paradise

Good information Steven! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Feb 02, 2011 04:47 PM #3
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Steve, it really is surprising there are not more fires than there are from electric baseboard heaters.

Feb 02, 2011 04:59 PM #4
Jim Mushinsky
Centsable Inspection - Framingham, MA

In my opinion, you're report language is too kind.

All the baseboard heater installation manuals that I have read all state do not install the electric baseboard heater under an electric receptacle.

I suspect there may be concealed damage to the wiring at and around the receptacle.  That observation is enough for me to recommend an electrician perform an invasive inspection of the wiring.

That's just how I call it in Bellingham MA.  :)

Feb 02, 2011 07:05 PM #5
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

<sigh> The things that unsuspecting home owners do to put themselves in jeopardy is really amazing...

Feb 02, 2011 08:58 PM #6
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

As I said to "Chuckie", I see this all the time over baseboard heaters, electric or otherwise. And, being smart like Nutsy, I have always thought this was a pretty foolish idea. I have a plug located right inbetween 2 radiators that are about 6 inches apart... I don't use it in the winter, LOL.

Feb 02, 2011 10:22 PM #7
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR®, Blogger, Principal Broker®, Owner

That looks a little scary. Common sense might have something to say about this arrangement. Although, I guess you might plug something in when the heater is not in use and just forget about it. Thanks for the post.

Your Friend in Charlottesville

Feb 02, 2011 11:24 PM #8
Michele Miller ~ REALTOR®, LMC, HSE, CHS, SRES, CMRS
ERA Key Realty~Worcester County Realty Group - Worcester, MA
'Helping You Make the Best Move"

Wow, this is scary Steven for sure.

So dangerous this time of year. In this area, it's not electrical but the weight of the snow that's causing roofs to collapse.

Feb 03, 2011 01:36 AM #9
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It was built this way by people who know what they're doing.   It must be fine. 

What, me worry?

Feb 03, 2011 10:57 AM #10
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy and evening to you Steve

Steve, it sure is not a good thing, when cords are ran over heaters in a home. Folks sure don't want to end up having a fire.


Have a good one
Dale in New Hampshire

Feb 03, 2011 11:22 AM #11
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

AR was out so I had no clue that this post was getting comments. Hmmm.

Feb 03, 2011 04:06 PM #12
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC


It seems to be such a common occurrence with baseboards.

Feb 03, 2011 04:24 PM #13
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


If I see a 70's house, and it has electric heat, it will be like this. I have never heard of anyone changing them out hence my suggestion that they do so, with remarks that they keep cords away from them.  At least they will do that part we hope. I have seen towels hanging down on them, curtains over them. That makes the electric cord problem seem mild in comparison.

Feb 04, 2011 02:38 AM #14
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Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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