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I moved into an apartment that has a wall-mounted heater that gets rather hot when turned on (see below). I have an inquisitive 1-year-old who already likes to climb up on the unit (luckily not while it's been on). I am wary about putting something directly surrounding the unit, both because it would block the heat and because it might be a fire-hazard.

photo

Does anyone have suggestions on how to properly protect the unit from my child (and vice-versa!) without creating further issues? I cannot remove the unit or do major construction, as this is a rented apartment.

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    Just an idea: would it be an option to simply not use this heater and use some other method of heating the house? That might take up less space than a fence or gate. But I don't know (just brainstorming).
    – Cerberus
    Jul 26 '16 at 1:28
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    What will happen if the child climbs on the heater while it's on? They'll get burnt and learn not to do it ever again?
    – user253751
    Jul 26 '16 at 2:35
  • @Cerberus that might be the best option.
    – magicker72
    Jul 26 '16 at 16:07
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    @immibis What might well happen is the child would burn themselves seriously enough to spend days or weeks in the hospital. These sorts of heaters get hot enough to cause fires if flammable material is left too close, and quite serious burns if you're careless and fall against them. Don't think of it as a heater vent, think of it as a giant stove or oven rack on your wall. The OP is wholly justified in wanting to keep their child away.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 26 '16 at 18:31
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    @immibis Yes, because the oven has a door a 1-year old can't open (the heater is like an exposed oven rack, not a closed oven) and the stove is on the counter, where a 1-year old can't get to it, and both are only on periodically while cooking, not all day like a heater.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 26 '16 at 21:57
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I'd place some sort of wall/fence around the outside. You could use two or three segments of a gate system like this:

Regalo 4 in 1 Configurable Metal Play Yard

Or for a more DIY solution, you could build a fence on a plywood base with rubber feet to hold it in place.

I would not recommend using heavy furniture to block access, as it will (1) block heat circulation and (2) in the event that your child does climb over it, he would be less able to escape.

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  • I suppose a Skinner Box is out of the question? Jul 26 '16 at 15:00
  • Thanks! This should work, but unfortunately would cut all the space out of the room!
    – magicker72
    Jul 26 '16 at 16:09
  • For some of these gates, you can assemble the length you need - you don't have to use all the segments. So you may be able to use 2-3 segments and create a fence that only cuts out a foot or two around the heater. Jul 26 '16 at 18:30
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You could surround it with a fence barrier that you attach to the wall, you can split it open and attach it to the walls on either side of the heater to provide a protective space (being sure to keep adequate clearance from the heater to the fence - one heater manufacturer recommends 3 feet in front and 12 inches to the sides of the heater):

They are available in various styles from simple plastic fences:

enter image description here

To more elaborate and attractive barriers:

enter image description here

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    For something surrounding a heater, I'd avoid plastic. Even if it's far enough away to not be a fire hazard, continuous exposure to elevated temperatures is likely to damage the plastic.
    – Mark
    Jul 26 '16 at 1:12
  • @Mark - there's enough fence there that it could easily be 3 feet or more away from the heater, which is farther than most people keep furniture away from such heaters. If it's like the similar heater in my old house, even 2 feet of clearance is enough clearance to prevent significant heating. I'll add clearance to my answer.
    – Johnny
    Jul 26 '16 at 3:12
  • That glass one is awwwesome! But I know that my dogs would either jump it or sit there and whine unceasingly :-) Jul 26 '16 at 14:57
  • Thanks! This should work, but unfortunately would cut all the space out of the room!
    – magicker72
    Jul 26 '16 at 16:09
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Search or shop for tension pole room divider for a solution that a child is unlikely to be able to move or tip over.

If you want to do it yourself then you can first install four tension poles in a small rectangle and then screw or clamp three sections of plastic or metal screen to make a box-shaped barrier. All your screws or other fasteners go into the poles and nothing goes into the walls.

Four tension poles installed around heater.

four tension poles

Three pierced metal screens screwed into the tension poles.

enter image description here

Add trim pieces over the screws to improve the appearance.

This can stay in place until you, or your youngest, move out.

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  • Your illustration has the poles rather close to the unit. Wouldn't the metal screens also get rather hot?
    – magicker72
    Jul 26 '16 at 16:10
  • The wall heater is convective rather than radiant. The inflow of air near the bottom of the heater will keep the screens cooler than the heater. - You should experiment with freestanding playpen segments to determine the comfortable distances for your heater and your climate. - Then afterwards, you should post your results here. Jul 26 '16 at 16:16

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