Patio heaters are a great way to keep your backyard cozy well into the wee hours of the morning, but the top-heavy design can sometimes make them a tipping hazard, especially if they aren’t properly secured.
If your patio heater tips over, not only can it damage the unit and/or your patio, but it can also lead to serious consequences for your home, sparking a fire that could cause untold damage.
There are a few preemptive steps that you can take to prevent your patio heater from tipping over, helping you protect against the unexpected.
Secure Your Patio Heater To Prevent Tipping
The best thing you can do to prevent your patio heater from tipping over is to make sure that you secure it before use. This will give it added stability to guard against people bumping into it, strong winds/inclement weather, dogs knocking it over, and other accidents that can lead to your patio heater tipping over.
For the best results, consider securing your patio heater in one of three main ways:
- Add weight to the base of your patio heater
- Secure your patio heater to a fire-resistant, stable structure
- Affix your patio heater permanently to the ground
You can secure your patio heater in any number of ways, not just those listed above; however, you will want to make sure that you do so in a way that is safe and which does not present a fire hazard.
Let’s take a look at how you can properly secure your patio heater to prevent it from tipping over using the three methods above.
1. Add Weight to your Patio Heater’s Base
Each patio heater is designed differently, so you will want to be careful how you add weight lest you accidentally destabilize it even more.
If your patio heater has a reservoir at its base, you can use this to add weight and balance to your patio heater. People often fill the reservoir with either water or sand but, if you choose other materials, make sure they are fire-resistant.
Sand, while adding a small additional cost to the project, is often the most secure as you do not need to worry about refilling it. It is a set it and forget it solution. Simply fill the reservoir with sand or sandbags and test the stability. It should be heavy enough that the patio heater will not tip over even if you apply some pressure to one side. If it is not, simply add more sand. Just make sure you don’t add so much that it spills outside of the patio heater.
If you use water, you will need to check every few weeks to refill the reservoir as the water will evaporate over time.
This means that there may be times that your patio heater is unsecured based on the volume of water. Depending on the unit, you can add water directly to the base of the patio or you may need to use fire-resistant water carriers.
If you have questions on how to weigh down your particular patio heater, you can check the owner’s manual. They will provide any instructions or requirements on how best to weigh down the reservoir in your patio heater, as well as what you should avoid to prevent accidentally damaging your unit.
If you do not have a reservoir, you can still add weight to the bottom of the heater, but it will be less aesthetically pleasing. You can use sandbags, water weights, and any other fire-resistant objects on the outside of the patio heater to add weight to the bottom of your heater. This will serve the same purpose as adding the weight internally in the unit – enhancing the patio heater’s balance and stability.
Because these weights are on the outside, you do run the risk of accidentally knocking them off or damaging them. If you do not notice, this could cause your patio heater to be unbalanced, making it easier to tip over, so you will want to be careful.
2. Secure Patio Heater to a Fire-Resistant Structure
Instead of adding weight to the bottom of your patio heater to prevent it from tipping over, you can secure it to a stable structure, either permanent or just heavy. This could be pillars, stone adornments, or anything that is heavy enough to secure the patio heater to and prevent it from tipping.
Keep in mind that everything to which you secure your patio heater needs to be fire-resistant, and this includes the materials you use to secure the unit. Bungee cords are a good option for fire-resistant ties. Avoid rope, plastic, and other materials that will melt or burn at low temperatures.
Additionally, if the structure is painted, make sure that they are not oil-based paints. Paints should be flame retardant, which is why it is best to avoid painted surfaces if possible. Stone, brick, and concrete will work best.
3. Affix Patio Heater to the Ground
One of the most effective ways to secure your patio heater is to permanently affix it to the ground. You can do this using bolts and other permanent fixtures. Be sure to read your owner’s guide to ensure nothing is preventing you from securing your patio heater this way, you want to avoid nicking any critical parts as this could make your patio heater malfunction.
You will need to put some thought into a permanent location for your patio heater to be secured. Before you do this, you will need to make sure it is secured in stable ground, like concrete or brick. Avoid trying to place your patio heater in grass or dirt.
Not only could this accidentally light on fire, but it can also be easier to tip over as this ground is less sturdy.
Bolting your heater to the ground will help anchor it to prevent it from tipping over. This is a more permanent solution than the other two, so be sure that you are comfortable making this adjustment to your outdoor ground permanently and that it is placed correctly as you will have a harder time moving it if you change your mind.
Turn on the Anti-Tilt Feature
In addition to choosing one of the above 3 ways of securing your patio heater, you may also want to consider turning on your heater’s anti-tilt feature. Many patio heaters have a built-in anti-tilt feature. Now, keep in mind that this will not increase the stability of your patio heater exactly, but it will help activate safety features if your patio heater does tip over.
The anti-tilt switch will automatically turn off your patio heater if it detects a falling motion.
This will shut off the gas flow, preventing a gas leak that could be devastating for you, your family, and your neighbors. Be sure to test your anti-tilting switch periodically to ensure it is functioning properly. This will help ensure it will work in the case of an emergency.
How to Test Your Anti-Tilting Switch
You may be tempted to tilt over your patio heater to test if the anti-tilting switch is working, but resist the urge. This can cause damage to the unit, including an accidental gas leak, which is the exact thing you are trying to avoid!
Consult your owner’s guide for instructions on how you can test your anti-tilting switch manually. Each unit has different instructions on how best to do this.
Position Your Patio Heater Properly
Even if you have weighed your patio heater down, you still want to consider its placement as a means to prevent it from tipping over. Even the most balanced patio heaters will tip over if they are not set up on the proper surface. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Set up your patio heater on firm, even ground. This could be on a deck, patio, cement, sidewalk, and more. Just make sure it is out of the way so that people will not trip over it or accidentally knock it over. You should never set up your patio heater on grass, mulch, and other unstable and flammable surfaces.
- Keep it away from any low-hanging branches, overhangs, and any other debris that could potentially hit your patio heater and knock it over. Remember, because of the design, the center of gravity for your patio heater is high. It is easy for it to fall when knocked from the top.
- Keep your patio heater in a well-ventilated area, away from doors and windows. You don’t want to accidentally breathe in any of the gases while indoors, and when you are away from doors and windows, there is less chance of accidentally being knocked over when someone is near it. Low traffic areas are more ideal locations to set up your patio heater.
Accidents happen, and the better you can set yourself up for success and avoid human error the better!
Check the Weather
It is unsafe to operate your patio heater under certain weather conditions, which is especially true when it is windy. As a rule, you will want to avoid using your patio heater if the winds are over 10 miles (16 kilometres) per hour.
If you do use it during high wind conditions, there is an increased risk that your patio heater will tip over, no matter how well weighted it is. It will also blow the flame out, rendering it useless until you can catch the pilot light again.
When your patio heater is not in use, make sure to cover it.
This will prevent anything from getting caught in it and animals from taking refuge inside of it. This is especially true if it is windy, raining, or snowing as repeated exposure to the harsh elements could shorten the lifespan of your patio heater.
Making sure that your patio heater is safe and secured before using it ensures that you will continue to be able to enjoy a nice, warmed, cozy outdoor space for years to come. Taking the time to secure your heater before you use it will be well worth it when you avoid any potential accidents and fire risks.
Always make sure that you are using your patio heater on a flat, non-flammable surface away from any low-hanging branches and never use your patio heater in high winds. Enjoy!