Here we will cover several tips to stop your patio heater from tipping over, so that the evenings spent in your patio remain safe and enjoyable.
If you have a patio, and live in an area with harsh winters, then odds are you own (or are planning to purchase) a patio heater. Depending on the type of heater you have or wish for, a major concern might be the appliance tipping over. Nobody wants that: best case scenario, your heater might be damaged—the worst being an actual fire starting.
The tips to follow concern propane heaters like this one. This design is fairly popular as it outputs a decent amount of heat, it’s not hard to start and operate, and it is quite portable (at least within the premises—putting it in a car might be more difficult).
Choose an Appropriate Heater
If you happen to be in the market for a new heater, it might be a good idea to consider what sort of unit is the best fit for you. There are, of course, certain practical considerations such as heat output, which are not the main focus of this article and thus we shall not tarry on them.
A more relevant factor worth paying attention to, is the form of installation.
The many shapes, configurations and models you can find in the patio heater market can largely be divided in two: gas (natural or propane), and electric (halogen and infrared). The latter category—the infrared sort, more commonly—offers models that can be mounted to the wall, or set to hang from the ceiling; some units, in fact, offer both choices.
This sort of mounting completely negates any risk of the heater tipping over.
There are, of course, a few potential deal breakers: infrared heaters, specifically, don’t heat up the entire room, only the area in front of them; this means one of these won’t be very good at covering a larger area. And, once installed, you can’t move them or change their orientation—not unless you want to redo the entire mounting from scratch.
Many of us will want to benefit from a propane heater, and not have to worry about it tipping over. This is perfectly doable. Let us proceed.
Consider Weather Conditions
Somewhat self evident, but still worth covering. Two are the elements to be wary of, when it comes to our propane heater: one is wind, which might snuff out our flame or blow the entire thing over if it is strong enough.
The other is rain; this one, as we all know, might also cause our flame to go all out (causing nothing but gas to come out until we close the valve), but it can also cause the heater to eventually develop rust, which may compromise its durability down the line.
While we’re at it: it is highly recommended to put your heater away when you no longer intend to use it, rather than leave in the open, where a sudden gust of wind (or stray summer shower) can affect it. What’s more, protecting it with an appropriate cover can only help it stay in service for a longer time.
How to Stabilize a Patio Heater to Stop it From Tipping Over
A solid footing can go a long way towards keeping your heater upright. Here’s how to go about it.
Choose a Good Location
Basic, but still important: placing the heater in ground that is off the horizontal, or bumpy, might cause the appliance to fall over even if there is no other external force acting upon it. No grass (even if it is manicured), and no loose or muddy soil for this one: rather, it should be placed on a deck or similar surface.
Aside from the surface it will be sitting on, the overall area can make a difference; all it might take is a wind-shielded area for you to mitigate or eliminate the risk of your appliance tipping over.
Weigh It Down
If you have seen one of these heaters, you have likely noticed the top: broad, and crowned with a heat shield. This makes the heater, shall we say, somewhat top-heavy; and it is one factor that makes the unit more vulnerable to tipping over.
Most patio heaters of this type come with a reservoir intended for housing the propane tank and keeping it out of sight.
If yours comes with this feature, then you can fill the bottom up with sand (the option we would personally recommend) or place within a container full of water. We feel the latter is more complicated to do, as it requires a fire proof container so it can safely sit within the reservoir. Still, the choice is yours.
It doesn’t stop there, though. If your heater does not feature a reservoir, or you would rather use it exclusively for the tank, you can use external weights.
For this, you get the same options as above—water, or sand. These weights, as you may notice, are not exactly made for a propane heater, but they can be attached to it without too much trouble (bungee cords are a good option for this); they are fairly durable, and many of them are made for enduring the elements without decaying.
Anchor It to the Ground
Although we do not feel enthusiastic about this one—as it will render the heater stationary—, it might still be a good option for some. Basically, you employ ground fixtures to bolt the heater to the ground, which means no wind will be capable of tipping it over.
Since you won’t be able to move the heater once you anchor it, it is important to choose what will be its permanent location with an appropriate degree of care.
- It should be a flat, horizontal, hard surface, so the heater will have a firm grip and sit upright. Cement is best for this; a wooden floor won’t be as solid for the anchors to latch on to.
- The area should be well ventilated, to prevent unsafe concentrations of carbon monoxide—or of gas, should a leak present itself.
- The spot in question should be about 10 feet away from anything flammable, such as walls, structures, furniture and the like.
- Preferably, the area should be covered, to help preserve the heater from the rain. However, any ceiling above should be a minimum of 1′ (preferably 2) higher than the top of the heater. If the unit must absolutely be placed in the open, it should be with no trees over it; and using a weatherproof cover is extra important in this case, to help preserve the appliance from weather changes.
Secure It to a Structure
By ‘structure’, we mean a pillar, or something alike, which is not close to walls or anything that we discussed a few paragraphs back. Bungee cords can be useful for this purpose, too. Tie it up, make sure it is firmly held, and you’re good to go.
In Case All Else Fails
In spite of your best efforts, there’s always a possibility—however minimal—of the heater tipping off the vertical and all the way to the ground. Here are a couple ways to further mitigate the risk.
Know Your Safety Features
Among the many special functions the market has to offer, one you might want to pay special attention to is the aptly named tip over protection. What this does, is cut off the flow of gas to the burner when the unit strays a certain angle from the vertical, which snuffs out the flame and prevents any damage. Nearly all heaters currently available come with this feature; make sure yours does too.
Never Leave a Heater Unattended
This one should be a given whenever you deal with any sort of fire; in this particular case, it can mean the difference between a quick reaction if something happens, and a regrettable incident should nobody be around to respond in a timely manner. As with many activities in life, vigilance is key.
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