Table of Contents
- Addressing Common Concerns
- Not Enough Directed Heat Hits Your Carpet[+]
- What If The Appliance Falls Over? (Explaining The Tip-Over Switch)[+]
- Will The Appliance Leak Oil On The Carpet?
- What About Long Pile Carpets?
- Optional Solution: Stand The Appliance On Ceramic Tiling
- Don’t Stand These Units On Tables
I’ve used electric oil-filled heaters placed on the carpeted floors in my house for over twenty years.
I’ve never had problems, but I do take some precautions. This article explains why you are unlikely to have an issue. We’ll also look at scenarios that you should avoid.
Addressing Common Concerns
When people ask the question as to whether it’s okay to put these appliances on carpets, they usually have one of three worries.
Some worry that the heat emitted from the bottom of the appliances is so strong that it could cause the carpet fibers to be set alight. They also worry if there’d be a big problem if the appliance fell over onto its side and was lying on the carpet.
Others are concerned that there could be unsightly singeing and damage to the carpet when the appliance is kept on for long periods of time.
I’ve been asked about whether the appliance could leak oil onto the carpet whether through normal use or if it tipped over.
I’m now going to address these questions one by one.
Not Enough Directed Heat Hits Your Carpet
During winter evenings, I run an oil-filled heater in my carpeted living room for several hours at the maximum setting.
When I place my hand on the carpet directly beneath the heater, the fibers are not hot to the touch. This area of the carpet is only mildly warm.
There are two reasons why the area beneath the heater doesn’t get hot enough to cause problems.
Heat rises upward from the appliance
You learned this in school but I’m here to remind you that heat rises!
Although the appliance is designed to radiate heat outward from the long metal fins, the heat generally moves away from the floor.
Heat is distributed in all directions
The second reason is that the fins of these heaters ensure that the heat is distributed outward in all directions.
This is in contrast with fan heaters that blast hot air in a specific direction. I wouldn’t hold a fan heater facing downward towards the carpet.
(Even if I did something that stupid, I doubt that the fibers would burn. But I wouldn’t take the chance).
The difference with oil-filled heaters is that the emitted heat isn’t directed at any particular area.
This is why you needn’t worry about your carpet being slightly damaged if you leave the heater on for a prolonged period. There simply isn’t enough directed heat at a high temperature hitting the fibers.
What If The Appliance Falls Over? (Explaining The Tip-Over Switch)
When the appliances are upright, they stand on wheels so that no part of the metal touches the ground.
But what if the appliance falls over? Some parts of the fins will be touching the carpet. Could that cause enough direct heat to be a problem?
Apologies for the poorer quality of the picture above, but I took it in a dark room with my phone. Yes, that’s my heater on its side on my living room carpet.
The answer is that all quality brands of modern appliances should have a tip-over switch for safety. This feature shuts the appliance off when it falls over.
These appliances cool down pretty quickly when the power is off. So, it should not present a problem if it is in contact with carpet fibers.
Tip: only purchase units with a safety tip-over switch
I only buy appliances that have a safety tip-over switch. This is easy to check.
It will be mentioned clearly on the box of quality brands.
If you’re buying on Amazon or other online outlets, check the description. You can simply search for “tip-over” or “safety”.
If you don’t see a tip-over switch mentioned, then I suggest that you purchase a different brand or unit.
Caution: keep the surrounding area free of flammable material
Most western countries have strict safety requirements for carpet manufacturers. The fibers must be heat-resistant and have a high ignition temperature.
This is why I don’t worry too much about the carpeting in my house.
However, what if there was a bundle of clothes lying on the floor beside the appliance? Some types of material in clothing can be far more flammable.
The solution to avoid a problem is to always keep the surrounding area free of other materials.
Don’t leave drying clothes unattended
You may be shrugging and thinking you don’t leave clothes on your floor so this isn’t a problem!
But plenty of people dry clothes by draping them on racks or the backs of chairs and putting them near the appliance.
What if a silk blouse slides off the rack and onto the floor beneath or beside the appliance? If the heater tips over, you could have a problem.
The solution here is to be in the room if you are drying clothes.
Will The Appliance Leak Oil On The Carpet?
This is very rare and has never happened to me – despite owning well over twenty units over several decades.
However, I investigated the possible issue, I found that a small number of owners do experience this problem.
I wrote an article on what to do if your appliance starts leaking oil. If you’re worried I’ve also got tips there about how to avoid the rare problem.
I’ll summarize here by recommending that you take some precautions if your unit has fallen over (I’ve dropped a few when moving them around).
You could place some inflammable material underneath the unit for a week or so and monitor for any liquid.
If your carpet is incredibly expensive, then you may not want to take the chance of this rare circumstance.
What About Long Pile Carpets?
My carpets are low pile. This simply means that the fibers are short and dense. There is a significant gap between the fibers and the bottom of the heating unit.
But what if your carpet is shag or a long pile? What if it looks like the carpet owned by the lady lying on the carpet in the picture above?
Personally, I wouldn’t put a heater of any kind sitting on this type of carpet. However, she could try the solution in the next section.
Optional Solution: Stand The Appliance On Ceramic Tiling
If you’re still worried about damaging your carpet, then here is probably the most visually appealing solution in your house.
The trick is to stand the heater on a solid flat surface placed over the carpet.
One option is the larger size of ceramic tiling. Look for the 16” X 16” option, which tends to be the highest size available.
Don’t Stand These Units On Tables
I have other types of heating appliances that I happily place on tables.
But I wouldn’t do this with a tall oil-filled column appliance. The reason is that I’m a clumsy person.
I’m hardly likely to knock into a squat flat unit like a typical small fan heater designed for table-tops.
Because oil-filled heaters are tall instead of squat, they are far more likely to be knocked over. Or you’ll trip over the power cord which is probably running diagonally upward.
This is a bad idea. Don’t do it!