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  • Writer's pictureGlacier Mechanical Services

10 home heating hacks to avoid

Updated: May 27

You have probably seen home heating hacks all over your social feeds. Especially if you are a fan of the TikTok how-to craze! These short, snappy, tips and tricks videos can be super helpful and cost-effective for loads of handy household hacks.

From cooking to cleaning and organising, you might not be able to imagine life before these new must-try trends. But, when it comes to central heating and learning how to keep our home warmer, it’s important that we put safety over social. In this article, we will reveal the top 10 home heating hacks to avoid.

1. Forget flammable Fabulosa

Possibly the most dangerous of the home heating hacks to avoid is the viral Fabulosa cleaning tip. One of the main stories even hit the news because of a radiator explosion that created a fireball that blasted the window out of a UK home! 

These how-to clips show homeowners using odour remover spray cans such as Fabulosa to spray into the convector radiator fins. The idea is that the shock spray simultaneously removes dust and makes the room smell fresh as the warm air circulates the fragrance around the room. 

However, the reason this is a safety hazard is because certain cleaning products like this contain flammable chemicals such as butane, propane and ethanol. These petroleum gases are denser than air.  

This means that they will settle in low-ventilated areas like radiator fins and create a risk of explosion. Especially if windows and doors are closed. They are even used to fuel portable gas heaters. No wonder they should be kept away from hot surfaces like radiators!

2. Do not try the terracotta pot heating hack!

There are so many dangers to do with the terracotta pot heating hack we don’t know where to begin! If you haven’t seen it before we will set the scene for you. The viral TikTok video has over 1.6 million views which is worrying for several reasons.

In the clip, the person places three round candles in glass cases next to each other in a triangle shape on a wooden table. They light the candles and balance a terracotta plant pot upside down on the top. The theory is that the enclosed pot boosts the heat created by the candles to warm up the room cheaply and lower heating bills.

Why this heating hack is dangerous:

The first major danger of doing this is that terracotta pots can quickly become extremely hot. So when you come to remove the pot to blow the candles out, the chances are that you will burn your hands even if they are protected with a tea towel because of the heat escaping from inside the pot.

The next problem is that the heat from the pot will heat up the glass candle holders below. As the temperature of the glass rises, the more likely they are to shatter and blast across the room in your direction. There is even a possibility of the pot itself exploding if it reaches 100 degrees. The remaining flames could then set fire to the wooden table in the viral example! 

Even if the glass or the pot manages not to crack, the combination of the melted wax and the terracotta pot is also likely to catch fire. Plus if the pot falls over, it could easily knock the candles down and direct the flames to a flammable surface. 

For this reason, fire chiefs also called out the danger of the hack in the news last winter after dealing with several incidents caused by homemade heaters.

Finally, some candles, particularly cheap ones made from paraffin wax release toxic chemicals when lit. On top of that, candles naturally produce small levels of carbon monoxide. The level is usually safe enough in our well-ventilated homes. 

But, grouping the candles together in an enclosed space under the pot is not well-ventilated. This means that it could produce a dangerous level which could be harmful if inhaled directly. For more information about CO2 safety, visit our carbon monoxide guide.

3. Resist the Poundland home heating hack

Similar to the terrible terracotta pot trick, the money-saving Poundland heating hack involves putting a house brick inside the oven and blasting the temperature up to keep the house warm. You can probably imagine why this is a bad idea!

If the temperature of the brick gets too high there is a chance that it could explode and shatter into pieces. This is because some bricks are not fired to cope with extreme temperatures. The pressure of the blast could be enough to break the window of the oven causing glass and brick to fly across the kitchen.

Plus, if the brick is left at a very high temperature in the oven for an extended amount of time, there is also a chance that it could set on fire. That means there would be no way to open the oven and put the fire out without severely burning yourself.

Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t happen, the brick will still reach a temperature that is unsafe to touch. Therefore when you need to remove it, it will almost be impossible without burning yourself. 

A safer and more effective way to keep your home warm would be to buy some draught excluders. There are a variety of options that draught-proof doors and window frames to keep the cold air out.

4. Avoid pouring hot water down the radiator

Many of the viral radiator cleaning and heating hacks with millions of views pour boiling hot water straight out of the kettle down the radiator fins to flush out the dirt. While this may be an effective way to remove the remaining dust, we would advise avoiding using boiled water.

Not only is this likely to burn your skin in the process, but it could also potentially damage the finish or colour of your radiator. Instead, use a jug of lukewarm soapy water. Ideally with a lip to help you direct the water where you need it. Always protect the floor with a bucket and towels under the radiator and cover any nearby electrical sockets.

Deep cleaning the radiator and removing the dust and dirt is something we would advise doing now and again. This is because a clean radiator can actually perform more efficiently and could even reduce your heating costs. Find out how to get the job done safely in our radiator cleaning guide.

5. Skip the sponge home heating hack

We all want our homes to smell nice. But one thing we definitely do not want is damp or mould. This is why using sponges to make your radiator smell lovely is a home heating hack to avoid. 

TikTokers can be seen dipping small sponges into water and fabric softener. Then they remove the top cover on the convector radiator, sit the sponges inside and put the top back on. The idea is that when the heating is turned on, the heat will rise and circulate the fresh scent around the room. 

Although this trick sounds good in theory, wet or damp material close to the radiator is generally not a great combination. Similarly to drying clothes on a radiator, the soggy sponges will create excess moisture and condensation in the room. This can result in dodgy patches of damp and mould which could lead to paint or wallpaper peeling or plaster staining. 

Instead of this heating hack, why not go for your favourite scented candle or air freshener to give your home that clean washing fragrance?

6. Bypass building your own radiator cover

Next up on the list of home heating hacks to avoid is building your own radiator cover. We know this may be tempting! There are so many interior influencers and DIYers out there teaching followers how to build beautiful covers. And if you’re not happy with your current radiator, it may be a project you want to try. 

But the reality is, radiator covers block heat from entering the room, reducing the radiator efficiency and increasing the energy bills. Especially covers that are not made correctly or with the right materials. Not ideal! 

In addition to the cranked-up costs and poor performance, radiator covers that are built around your thermostatic radiator valves can cause havoc with your heating system. Since the valve is unable to detect the actual room temperature, it confuses the thermostat and alters the whole central heating system.   

If you really want to disguise your radiator with a cover and you have the budget available, invest in a quality radiator cabinet. Many radiator covers are made from engineered wood and feature multiple air vents to allow the heat to circulate around the room via convection.

7. Pick the right radiator paint

If you’re a home decor fan, you can’t go on your social feed for 2 seconds before finding another DIYer painting an old radiator. Don’t get us wrong, they do a great job! And it certainly transforms a space by having a coloured radiator that matches your scheme. 

But one of the main pieces of advice that these hacks fail to mention is the type of paint you must use on your radiator. You might not want to waste some leftover wall paint and get straight to matching up the radiator. 

Standard paints are not designed to cope with heat. This means that when the heating is on, the paint will warm up and start to crack and peel off. Totally ruining your transformation. 

Radiator paint is specifically made to prevent this from happening. It’s crucial that you go and find a radiator paint in a finish you like. Not only will this leave you with a heat and scratch-resistant finish, but it will also adhere to the metal properly to give you a professional look.

8. Banish the brillo pads

Tonnes of TikTokkers are taking to cleaning their radiators with brillo pads. Particularly to remove stubborn stains such as pen, hair dye or nail polish. This is a big no-no.

Brillo pads are very abrasive materials. So you might find that they are able to remove stains when combined with cleaning products. But you are likely to remove the paintwork too and scratch the surface of the radiator. Making it look worse than before!

Instead, use a soft sponge, microfibre cloth or an old toothbrush to scrub away stains without damaging the finish. You could also try mixing white vinegar and water and leaving the solution on the stain for a few minutes before wiping it away with a soft cloth. Always with the heating turned off of course.

9. Say goodbye to bleach

When it comes to viral cleaning hacks, bleach seems to be the answer to everything. We understand the reason for that too. It’s super cheap, easily available, and a great disinfectant. But there are several surfaces that are unsafe to use bleach on. 

Wood, fabric and metals are just some of the materials that bleach does not agree with. Including radiators. Since bleach is such a strong agent, even a small amount of it can ruin the radiator surface. This is because it will oxidise and corrode the metal by creating rust.

In severe cases, rust can destroy the metal so much that it creates holes in the radiator. If left unnoticed, these holes can turn into leaks which result in a poorly performing, inefficient radiator that could increase heating costs and lower the output. 

We would always advise using gentle cleaning products without corroding chemicals. If you are unsure, always stick to diluted vinegar or dish soap and water.

10. Keep camping stoves and barbeques outside

Last but not least, this dangerous hack made the list after several rescues from the London fire brigade at the start of the year. Claims on social media were made to encourage people to use camping cookers or barbeques instead of the gas oven as an energy-saving hack. 

The idea is that this should reduce energy costs without using the normal oven. Plus, create an additional source of heat to stay warm if it is too expensive to turn the thermostat up.

There are several reasons why this equipment is designed to be used outdoors. Using them inside puts your home at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Plus, they are easy to knock over, especially around children and pets. Therefore they are an extreme fire hazard.

So next time we have a nice sunny day, take your camping cooking gear into the garden and have a feast without risking a fire.

Home heating hacks to avoid checklist

That brings us to an end of our top ten home heating hacks to avoid. There are probably loads more we could have included. So please put your safety first when thinking about trying a new life hack to heat your home.

The next time you are scrolling looking for ways to save money, remember to avoid these heating hacks that put your life and home at risk:

  1. Forget flammable Fabulosa

  2. Do not try the terracotta pot hack!

  3. Resist the Poundland hack

  4. Avoid pouring hot water down the radiator 

  5. Skip the sponge home heating hack

  6. Bypass building your own radiator cover   

  7. Pick the right radiator paint

  8. Banish the brillo pads

  9. Say goodbye to bleach

  10. Keep camping stoves and barbeques outside

This article was originally published by Best Heating

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