Space Heaters

Why does the space heater keep shutting off?

We all love a warm home. Right? A space heater is a perfect device to use to keep our homes warm. However, some users do face a common problem – the space heater keeps shutting off. Why is that, and how can you solve it?

If your space heater keeps shutting off, it could be a sign that your unit is going bad, or you’ve placed it on an uneven surface which activates the tip-over shutoff feature. What’s more, there might be a loose connection on the wall outlet, the breaker is going bad, it’s overheating, or the power supply is too weak.

Up to this point, you can already tell there is a lot to do with a space heater that keeps shutting off. The good news is, troubleshooting the problems and fixing these issues is not complicated, at least after reading this article. I’ve simplified everything for you to make it as seamless as it can be.

Why Does Your Space Heater Keep Shutting Off?

A space heater is supposed to stay on as long as you want it or until the room is warm to the setting, you set on its thermostat. If anything happens and the unit shut off prematurely, that can be not very pleasant. What’s more, it means you won’t get the benefits you paid for. Right?

So, what do you do? The best this is to figure out what is causing the space heater to keep shutting down. Here are a few reasons this could be happening and their simple fixes.

1) The Space heater is on an uneven or extra-soft surface

Modern space heaters come with a built-in tip-over protection feature designed to automatically switch the unit off when it tips over to a certain angle. As you can imagine, if by any chance your heater was tipped over by a pet or a child while still operating, it can lead to fire or serious burns.

The tip-over security feature is a simple button placed on the heater’s bottom. It has a longish design that allows it to touch the floor. Its operation is quite simple; when the unit sits upright, the button is pressed, assuming the heater is upright. If not pressed, the heater will assume it’s tipped over and shuts off.

If you place the unit on uneven or soft ground, the tip-over protection feature may get triggered and falsely lead the heater to shut off. The same will happen if it keeps swinging because of unstable placement. It can also be triggered when a passion walks near it if the unit has an accelerometer.

Fix: Place the space heater on a level surface. If there’s a carpet or rug, you can lay something supportive under the heater to keep it level, such as a solid heat-resistant mat.

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2) The Breaker Trips Every Time You Turn on the heater

If this happens, there might be an overload issue. You may need to check if the circuit breaker has tripped and switched off automatically to stop the power supply from going up. If you want to troubleshoot further, load shedding can be one reason why your space heater keeps shutting off.

This usually occurs during winter when everyone starts using their home appliances such as stoves, clothes dryers, and other heating appliances that consume a lot of energy. If your circuit breaker is tripped, you can reset it by switching the switch on and off several times.

In some cases, a faulty breaker or fuse might be to blame. You can check out both options by hitting the test button on your electric panel. If the panel lights up but the breaker trips again, you will likely need a breaker replacement. Reducing electrical consumption and adjusting your schedule may also help extend energy usage and avoid long blackout periods that trigger timeout switches.

Fix: Once the circuit has been reset, try turning off appliances in one area at a time and see if there’s any effect with the heater switch-off problem before proceeding to step 3.

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3) The Outlet Circuit has Some Problems

If the circuit breaker does not trip, there may still be a problem with your outlet. The heating unit pumps a lot of electricity, which can overload the power supply coming from the wall outlet. If you get an electrician to check it out, he or she will likely find that your cable is undersized.

Fix: You can check if there’s any loose wiring by removing all plugs at once and seeing if the circuit goes off. It could also be due to faulty grounding; in such a case, you need to call for help from a qualified electrician.

4) The Space Heater is Overheating

The space heater may shut off when it’s overheating. That can happen for a few reasons such as:

a) The unit has been running for quite some time, and the internal parts cannot take the heat anymore. That can happen if you’ve placed the unit in an enclosed area where there’s little or no ventilation. If you’ve placed objects near the heater, it might lower its ability to lose heat because of insulation. Objects may also get too hot or cause a fire if they come in contact with oil, clothing or wood surfaces of the heating appliance.

b) The air filter is dirty and clogged to the point that it obstructs the airflow into the space heater. If that were to happen, the unit could overheat and trigger the auto-shutoff feature. However, this problem occurs in those space heaters with a built-in fan. The fan pulls the cold air into the unit, but first, it passes through the filter for cleaning of the contaminants such as dust and pollen. The heating element then heats it and release it. The cycle is supposed to repeat until the space is warm enough.

Fix: Place the heater in a well-ventilated area where you’ll have easy access to check its internal components. If it still keeps shutting off, you may need to dry-clean or replace the air filter.

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5) The Outlet Power Supply is Weak for the Space Heater

The space heater draws a lot of electricity. That is why it’s important to check the circuit output power before you buy it.

You should also know that most space heaters can only run on certain types of electrical current to avoid short-circuiting. Most residential buildings use 15 amp or 20 amp supply lines fed by 120-volt receptacles. Even so, some heating appliances are compatible with both GFCIs and non-GFCIs, but not all of them can handle more than 15 amps without tripping the safety mechanism.

If your home uses 20 amps service lines, you’ll need to get a special adapter for the cable plug coming from the wall outlet or replace your breaker with one that can handle more amps. Here’s an example of a 20A breaker, but you should double-check the specifications before proceeding to the next steps.

Fix: You’ll need to rewire the outlet by replacing the weaker breaker with a breaker rated for the heater. If you’re not confident in doing the work yourself, contact an electrician if you’re unsure how to proceed.

6) Your Space Heater is Going Bad

If your space heater keeps shutting off, it can be a sign it’s going bad. Like any machines out there, space heaters do experience wear and tear. When that happens to its interior parts, there could be a problem with its normal operation. The thermostat could malfunction, the heating element might under or overheat, and all these issues might lead it to keep shutting down.

Fix: If your unit keeps shutting down, you have eliminated all the above possible causes, and you’ve noticed reduced performance; this is a sign it’s going bad. And the best solution is to replace it with a new space heater.

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Related Questions

How long do space heaters last?

This largely depends on how often you use the unit, but space heaters usually need replacing every 15 to 20 years when the coil temperatures are maintained between 750 and 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. If the electronic parts are not that durable, then it could be shorter than that.

Can you use a hot air gun as a space heater?

No! A hot air gun is a portable heating tool that uses hot compressed air to generate heat for home repair jobs. Some of the common uses include soldering, thawing blocked pipes or loosening rusted bolts. However, it’s not supposed to stay hot for too long, mostly not more than 10 minutes. That means it’s not ideal for warming your home as you might end up reducing its life span.

About the author

Sharif Hasan

I am Sharif a data-driven marketer by profession and run The Spruce Air. I am very interested in keeping good-quality air inside of my home. Besides, I love to share my air-related knowledge through my website.

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