Warning of self-construction stove and emergency heating

Even before the crisis, heaters were among the top causes of fire in Austrian households. Now the rush to alternative heating solutions has intensified – and that is ringing alarm bells among experts. On Wednesday, for example, the Board of Trustees for Traffic Safety warned in a press conference that even temporary heating solutions must be secured by specialists.

Many people have the idea that the crisis is only temporary and that the emergency heating is a temporary solution. This leads to a quick and temporary installation, “because the MacGyver on TV always made it,” says KFV expert Armin Kaltenegger.

In the worst case fatal

But professional installation is necessary for several reasons. “The installation of stoves, flue pipes or wall and ceiling ducts can quickly become a source of danger if you do it yourself,” says the fire protection department of the KFV. A specialist must therefore check whether the structural requirements for installation are met and whether important factors such as underlay and safety distances are observed. Then the release takes place.

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Ovens are trendy, but they need to be installed professionally

Regular maintenance of the stoves is also an important part of fire safety. Flues must be checked at regular intervals. If the chimney is not cleaned regularly, soot deposits can ignite and cause a chimney fire. It can also become problematic if smoke gases can no longer be removed properly due to deposits and instead enter the living space. In the worst case, this can have fatal consequences.

Insurance can opt out

If a fire breaks out, it can become a major problem even without personal injury. Because insurance companies can opt out in the event of damage if a heating system was not installed professionally. Which is not uncommon at the moment: The Vorarlberg guild master of chimney sweeps, Reinhard Bilgeri, has to deal with a self-installed Swedish stove every week – and he is only responsible for the Hohenems area – more about this in vorarlberg.ORF.at.

In Vienna, too, the demand for stove installations has risen sharply: “Since the discussion about the uncertainties regarding the gas supply, inquiries for stove installations for wood stoves or the conversion of central heating to biomass have increased by an average of three to five times among Austrian chimney sweeps compared to the increased in previous years,” says the Federal Guild Master of Chimney Sweeps, Christian Plesar.

load on power plants

According to the KFV, other temporary heating solutions also pose risks. Radiant heaters and devices with heating coils could cause fires, especially if they come into contact with materials such as fabric and dust. The increased use of electrical devices can also lead to an overload of the power system. Above all, care should be taken when connecting to multiple sockets, since too many devices are often attached to them. The equipment also needs to be serviced.

Electric heater

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Putting old heaters into operation is not a good idea

“Electric radiant heaters are not suitable for heating the entire living space, but only for briefly heating up a room,” states the KFV. Apart from that, radiant heaters are cheap to buy but expensive to run, warn energy experts.

Tealight Stoves: Pointless, but Potentially Dangerous

Instructions for building “mini-ovens” from tea lights and terracotta pots are also currently circulating online. These are completely unsuitable for heating – the heat output remains at that of four or five tea lights. For a real effect you need about one tea light per square meter, according to the German energy expert Reinhard Loch from the consumer advice center to the editorial network Germany. “Nobody does that. And that would also be extremely dangerous,” says the energy expert.

On the one hand, the many small open fires and on the other hand the material would pose a risk. Tea lights are usually made from paraffin, a petroleum product. This causes them to ignite like oil. If several tea lights are placed too close together, a “widespread fire” can develop.

This cannot be extinguished with water either, but only by covering or using an extinguishing spray for fat fires. If you used water, a dangerous jet of flame would develop. In addition, burning the tea lights consumes oxygen. For safe operation, this must be supplied by ventilation, which means that every heating effect is lost.

“Get Fire Extinguishers”

“Install smoke alarms and get a fire extinguisher for your apartment,” warned KFV expert Kaltenegger in principle. Tips for reducing the risk of fire include well-founded advice from specialist staff, the use of suitable fuels, regular maintenance of electrical equipment, the installation of smoke alarms and keeping a hand-held fire extinguisher to hand.

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