Hot Water Baseboard Heater Safety

Baseboard heater safety is an ongoing conversation. Many people have genuine safety concerns about their baseboard heaters. It's something we've talked about before and we'll continue to talk about it into the future.

Let's go through the known dangers of baseboard heating and what you can do to avoid risk.

 Large living room with baseboard heater going around a corner.

Electric vs Hot Water Baseboard Heaters

There are two types of baseboard heaters: electric and hot water (aka, hydronic). If you have electric baseboard heaters there is far greater risk than with hydronic.

Generally speaking, electric baseboard heaters are safe when installed correctly and kept far away from any flammable materials. Exercise caution if you have children or pets in a home with electric baseboard heat. These become much hotter to the touch than hydronic and burns can result.

We receive many calls about using Baseboarders over electric heaters. In the past we have discouraged it, as electric heaters can be quite dangerous (US Consumer Product Safety Commission).

That said, we have developed an option for using our Baseboarders covers for electric baseboard heaters. Our kits ensure the best fitting, most efficient, and safest covers, all with our signature look. 

Shop Electric Baseboard Heater Covers


Coastal style sitting area with white walls, baseboard heater, and blue armchair.

Hot water baseboard heaters run at much lower temperatures. A boiler brings water to roughly 180 degrees F. Next, a circulation pump pushes the heated water through copper or plastic pipes. Those pipes are routed through the rooms of your home where the heat from the hot water is transferred into the room.

By the time the water makes its way into the individual rooms of your home, it is normally below 100 degrees F. In other words, a safe temperature range. Learn more about how hot water baseboard heaters work.


Dining room with modern styling and white baseboard heater.

Risk of Fire and Burns

Have you ever seen baseboard heaters make the 6 o'clock news? It's very unusual. Occasionally, burns or fire connected to an electric heater might be reported.

Older baseboard heaters have gaps at the top of the heater where small toys can fall in and cause problems. Drapery or furniture placed too close to heaters can also be a problem. Especially when it comes to electric baseboard heaters, you should treat your baseboard heaters with respect.

Ensure there is an 18 inch space between hydronic baseboard heaters and drapes or furniture. Take precautions around small children and pets that play in areas where baseboard heaters are installed.

When a Baseboarders panel is installed over a heater, it will cover the open gap at the top ensuring nothing, other than the air currents, will touch the heating element. 


Baseboard heater flanked by drapery that is at least 18 inches away.

Risk of Injury

When it comes to exposed unfinished sharp metal edges, both hot water and electric baseboard heaters have them. This is necessary because the cover must help the heat be transferred into the room rather than block it.

Baseboarders are made of high quality steel. This material helps in the convection heating process by holding and dissipating heat energy. As a sheet metal fabricator, we are always mindful of the inherent sharp edges that result from the shearing process.

Hot water baseboard heaters are made up of various parts that easily disassemble, so you might be exposed to sharp edges during installation.

Our one piece panel design has only two exposed ends, and these will be concealed by endcaps. All other edges are "hemmed".


Small dining area with modern furnishings and a black baseboard heater.

Risk of Ugliness?

Just in case you didn't notice, the last six decades of baseboard heater production has been defined by ugliness. Interior Designers have spent countless hours trying to hide them. Some builders won't deal with them at all.

The popular opinion among home owners that employ baseboard heaters is that they offer reliable, comfortable and quiet heating. Perhaps that's why so many just tolerate their poor aesthetic values.

We have yet to meet someone who finds their original baseboard heaters to be an icon of good design. So yes there is a very real risk of ugliness. Although it's definitely not in the same category of seriousness discussed above, Baseboarders also address this widespread problem with outstanding results.


Read more about baseboard heater safety and children.