Yes, patio heaters are safe on decks. But you should never leave a patio heater unattended at any time. A responsible adult should always be around to monitor the patio heater. This means that you should know all of the safe handling measures of a patio heater.
There are two factors that determine the safety of patio heaters on the deck. These factors are; the type of patio heater and the material used to construct the deck.
For example, a hanging patio heater or a wall patio heater is much safer on the deck than the free-standing patio heater. Another example, an aluminum or concrete deck is much safer with a patio heater than a wooden deck.
Safe Handling of Patio Heaters on Decks
Below are the safe handling measures of any type of patio heater on any type of deck. These measures are not for a specific patio heater or for a specific material used to construct a deck.
- Secure and safe placement
Keep off patio heaters any material that is combustible or flammable. All manufacturers design patio heaters to give heat to any object, animal, and person near it through radiation.
This is why a patio heater is a fire hazard if it is placed near combustible material. And it is destructive if placed near potted plants, grass, and some outdoor textile. Also, avoid flammable objects like propane tanks.
Place patio heaters three feet away from any combustible material. Make sure you read the user’s manual to find any extra features that can regulate the heat in different placement areas.
- Fuel and power safety
Patio heaters have three main energy sources which are; electricity, propane, and natural gas. Each one of these sources has its own safety measures.
If you have an electric patio heater, make sure the cables are not naked. Ensure all cables have an insulator, wrap a tape around an open cable to prevent electric shots. Make sure the plug-in socket is indoors to avoid electric shocks in case of a storm or heavy rainfall.
If you have a propane patio heater, make sure the propane tank is at a safe distance from the patio heater. Or else the patio heater can radiate excess heat that will make the tank explode.
Also, ensure the tank valve is closed when the heater is off or while shutting down the heater’s switch (never switch off the heater’s switch when the tank valve is open). Also, make sure there are no gas leakages on the pipe or on the heater.
If you are using a natural gas patio heater, make sure you use a professional to connect the heater to the gas pipeline. Always secure the connecting unit on the floor/ground with ground mounts.
Also, ensure there is no gas leakage on the gas pipe or on the patio heater. You can use soapy water to find the gas leakages. Bubbles will identify a leakage. Use a rubber patch and rubber glue to cover the leakage.
- Secure and stabilize the patio heater
A patio heater can easily tilt and topple over because of its design. Try and place your patio heater in areas that are not busy with people moving around and the surface should be flat.
For example, avoid the footpaths and the entrance. Some patio heater models come with anti-tilt devices that make a heater stable and cannot fall over in case of an accident.
On the other hand, you can weigh down the heater with sandbags or water bags. Doing so will make it stable and there will be no small movements.
You can also use flame-resistant bungee cords to secure the heater on the ground like a tent.
The last option is to use a table patio heater because it is short and small, making it the best for a small deck or a windy deck.
- Weather proofing the patio heater
The wind is the biggest enemy of a patio heater, especially the dome-shade heater that looks like an umbrella and can trap the wind.
Use the anchoring weights and anti-tilt devices to protect your patio heater from the wind. You can place the heater in a position that is less exposed to the wind like behind a wall or a pillar.
Patio heaters come with special covers that prevent rain and snow from reaching its insides.
- Good ventilation
Patio heaters are made to be used in areas that have free air circulation. Patio heaters produce carbon monoxide which is a dangerous gas. Use patio heaters in open or semi-open places. Avoid areas that have obstructions like tall buildings and water tanks.
Never place the heater directly in the lawn because it will burn up the grass making the place undesirable. Instead, place it on a solid surface that is stable like a stool or a table.
- Light the heater safely
Propane and natural gas heaters are somehow delicate to light them. Most patio heaters have an electric igniter button, some models or old ones need you to light them up in a manual way. Use a candle or the grill lighter if it requires you to light it up manually. This is because a candle or a grill lighter allows you to stand at a safe distance.
If the heater does not light up, turn off the tank valve and wait for about five minutes and then try again. Doing so will prevent the gas from building up which can explode or flash burn.
- Always have a fire extinguisher
Even the safest driver can be involved in a road accident. Try and have a fire extinguisher nearby because an accident can still happen even if you follow all precautions.
Make sure you buy the right extinguisher depending on the heater’s source of power. Use class B extinguishers for gas heaters and class C extinguishers for electric heaters and multipurpose extinguishers for both heaters.
Yes, a patio heater can be used on the deck, but with the full supervision of a responsible adult. This will force the responsible adult to know all the safety measures of using a patio heater. These safety measures include; stabilizing the heater, weatherproofing the heater, safe placement, safety fuel practices, light-up the heater with caution, and always have a fire extinguisher nearby.