Using an LPG cabinet heater safely

Gas heaters are great for keeping warm but they can be deadly if not maintained properly.

If gas heaters are faulty or poorly maintained, or don’t get enough air to operate, they won’t burn the gas properly. In extreme cases that means they will emit toxic carbon monoxide and other unpleasant gases. Carbon monoxide can be lethal as it can’t be seen and has no smell. It can cause death or chronic illness. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen in any home or building that uses gas heating, including newer ones.

Test the cylinder connection – if you have an LPG cabinet heater, always test the cylinder connection after attaching the gas cylinder. You can do that by applying soapy water to the cylinder connections and turning on the cylinder. If bubbles appear, you have a leak. Close the valve and call an LPG service agent or take your cylinder in to be checked.

Don’t use in a small space – remember not to use LPG cabinet heaters in a confined space like a bedroom, bathroom, cabin or caravan.

Keep your distance – keep your heater at least one metre away from anything that could catch fire and put up a safety guard if you have young children or pets, or the area has a lot of foot traffic.

Ventilate – allow fresh air to circulate through the room – by keeping a window ajar you remove carbon dioxide emissions and reduce condensation.

Top tips for using an LPG heater 

  • Get your heater and cylinder checked every year by an LPG service agent – the start of winter is the perfect time to get this done.
  • When you connect gas cylinder, the connection between the cylinder and the heater by applying soapy water – bubbles indicate a leak.
  • Children or infirm people should always be supervised around LPG heaters.
  • Keep grills and vents clear of obstructions, and free of lint and dust.
  • A maximum of 20 kg of LPG can be kept indoors and no cylinder can exceed 10 kg.
  • Use your nose. If you smell gas, turn off the heater and cylinder immediately, and don’t use it again until you have had it checked by an LPG service agent.
  • Because they’re unflued, portable gas heaters need to be treated with special care.
  • If someone in your house has asthma, avoid using an LPG heater, the flue products can be irritating.

How to check your LPG heater connections for leaks 

  • When connecting an LPG cylinder – check all connection points for leaks by putting a small amount of soapy water around the joint – for example with a spray bottle. If bubbles appear that means there’s a leak and you need to get it checked.
  • Check for obvious signs of damage to hoses and the appliance.
  • Connection fittings may have small rubber o-rings – check these for damage regularly.