Can You Lay Oil-Filled Heaters On Their Side? (Tips)

There are times when you want to lay an oil-filled electric heater on its side.

You may be moving to a new place and want to put it into the car. Or perhaps you want to store it away during the summer.

Will you break an oil-filled heater by laying it on the floor? Are there any other problems? Read on for all the answers.

Oil-Filled Electric Heaters Can Be Laid Horizontally

This photo is a rather grainy image of one of my heaters on its side on my living room carpet.

Those are table and chair legs behind the appliance. I’m happy to report that the unit worked perfectly when I set it upright again!

Oil-filled electric heaters can be laid horizontally when they are not in use. Because the oil is completely sealed, there is no problem with future use.

It’s generally recommended to stand the unit upright for about 15 minutes before turning it on.

It’s important to lay the heater down carefully without letting it hit the ground with any force. A heavy fall is not likely to break the metal or ceramic layers. However, it’s possible that the joints could crack.

It’s more likely that an electrical component will fail due to jarring from a fall. I’m speaking from experience! I’ve broken several heaters through clumsily letting them fall when moving units from room to room.

Can You Store Oil-Filled Heaters On Their Sides?

Many people like to put their heaters out of the way during the summer months. Is it okay to store them on their sides?

Most brands are okay to store on their sides for prolonged periods.

Indeed, manufacturers and distribution companies store many of the oil-filled brands on their sides. The boxes are stacked high in pallets. This is before you purchase the unit with your hard-earned money.

You can also look at the packaging that the heater was in when you bought it. Boxes are clearly marked with arrows when it’s important that the product inside should be stood upright.

I haven’t purchased a brand with directional arrows on the packaging yet. Of course, if your choice of appliance has clear instructions for standing the box upright, then you should follow what you see.

What Should You Do When Putting The Heater Back Into Use?

When you want to turn on an oil-filled heater that has been laid on its side, you should carefully lift the unit upright.

Make sure that the wheels and braces are stable when you’ve put the unit into an upright position. These components are easy to jostle loose. You don’t want the appliance to tip over accidentally.

I advise that you should wait from five to fifteen minutes before turning it on. This is to allow the oil to settle and fully fill the lower part of the unit.

This isn’t strictly necessary. But if you turn the unit on without waiting for the oil to settle, the heat will take longer to distribute evenly through the fins.

This is because the unit isn’t completely full of oil. When the heater was on its side, the oil had shifted position.

When you set it upright, it needs to shift position again. Oil is viscous and takes a bit of time to settle to a resting position.

What Should You Do When Putting The Heater Back Into Use

Noises after setting it upright

I showed a photo earlier of my heater on its side. When I lifted it upright, there was a few seconds of sloshing sounds as the liquid moved suddenly.

Don’t be concerned if you later hear an intermittent dripping noise from inside the unit. That is simply drops of oil moving downward!

You may also hear popping sounds when you turn on the heater. This is because the moving fluid had formed air bubbles which pop as they heat up.

If you want to learn more about the normal sounds you may hear, check out our article on the noises that electric oil-filled heaters can make. Some should be investigated as potential issues, but most are nothing to worry about.

Can You Run An Oil-Filled Heater On Its Side?

I spotted this question on a gardening forum by someone asking if they could keep their vegetable boxes warm by running an oil-filled heater laying on its side underneath the plants.

Some fellow gardening enthusiasts were alarmed about possible dangers and oil leaks.

But the simple answer is that modern brands come with a safety tip-over switch that turns the appliance off when it is horizontal.

The tip-over switch is to prevent problems if the heater falls over. It also stops you from deliberately trying to run the appliance on its side.

Could My Heater Leak When It’s On Its Side?

Could My Heater Leak When Its On Its Side

I think that one of the most common worries that people have when transporting an oil-filled heater is that the oil might somehow leak into the back of their car or onto their carpet.

But the oil is in a fully sealed metal container that would not leak without a drastic event. You can rest assured that your heater won’t leak when laid on its side.

I often hang out in DIY and home improvement forums. It’s extremely rare for anyone to report a leak from a modern brand.

Dean Casey
About Dean Casey

Hi, I'm Dean Casey, the founder and chief editor of

With over 15 years of experience in the HVAC industry, my passion is helping homeowners achieve optimal comfort and energy efficiency in their living spaces. As a certified HVAC technician and consultant, I have developed a deep understanding of home heating systems, insulation, and energy-saving practices.

I started this blog to provide well-researched, practical advice to homeowners looking to improve their home's heating performance and reduce energy bills. Whether it's comprehensive guides, hands-on product reviews, or expert tips, my goal is to share valuable information with you, my readers.

I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring the great outdoors when I'm not busy writing and researching. I'm also an avid DIYer, always eager to tackle new home improvement projects and share my experiences with you.

If you have any questions or comments about home heating, please don't hesitate to reach out through the contact page on the website. I'm always happy to help!

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