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How Electric Heaters can be a Problem for Renters

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Plugin Space Heaters and Electrical Circuits: Safe Electrical Circuit Wiring, Electric Space Heaters, Separating Electrical Circuits, Adding Electrical Circuits.

Electric Heaters Tripping Circuits and Blowing Fuses

Electrical Question: I am renting a house that was turned into 2 units, our unit being the largest. This winter we had to heat with electric heaters, and noticed that when we had two heaters plugged in the electric went out, that is when we realized the entire house including our half, was on the same circuit,  except for some of the kitchen.

  • Is this a fire hazard for us? I am very worried.
  • I know its not the safest to heat with plugin heaters as it is, but to have everything on one fuse or circuit doesn’t sound good at all?

Thank you for reading and your time!

This home electrical repairs question came from: Melissa, in Brazil, Indiana.

Additional Comments: Helpful.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Melissa.

Plugin Space Heaters and Electrical Circuit Load

Application: Installing a 240 Volt Baseboard Heater Circuit
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced, Best installed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, electric drill,  auger bits and extension cord.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and install electrical circuit wiring.
Precaution: Identify the panel circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional circuit wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Dedicated Circuits are Best for Electric Heaters

Hi Melissa – Great Question!

  • Safe Electrical Circuit Wiring
    • The safety of the electrical circuits would depend on weather the circuits have been wired properly, and if the circuit protection is the correct size, that being the circuit breakers.
    • I would certainly hope that there are more circuits than you have described, for instance the bathroom should be on its own circuit.
  • Electric Space Heaters
    • You are right, electric space heaters are not the most ideal, especially if they are 120 volt, but they can help out as needed, just be very careful.
    • If more permanent heat is needed then permanently installed  220 volt baseboard heaters on dedicated circuits would be a good option which would prevent the existing circuits from becoming overloaded.
  • Separating Electrical Circuits
    • In a situation like this where a home is split into two units as rentals, typically the main electrical service and circuits are split up as well. This would prevent the inconvenience of overloaded circuits and  interrupting the neighboring unit power as well.
    • There is also the matter of how the electric bill is being metered or calculated, or what the billing arrangement is for each tenant. Often one tenant may use more electricity than the other, and the electric billing can then become an issue.
  • Adding Electrical Circuits
    • In any case, it does sound like the home may need additional electric circuits installed if electric heat will still be required, and this may be a good opportunity to have an electrician evaluate the whole electrical system and make sure everything is wired correctly and up to code.

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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.


2 Responses to “How Electric Heaters can be a Problem for Renters”
  1. Chris says:

    Good recommendations from your site, just a spelling or word usage tip is it weather or whether? I wish there was a grammar check app.

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