how to dispose of a space heater

How to Dispose of a Space Heater

How to dispose of a space heater. That’s actually a good question and it pops up to lots of people when they want to get rid of their old space heater. Whether it’s broken, too old and unfashioned or you just want to free some space. In this article, we’re going to find out how to dispose of space heaters. For extra detail, I will divide this article into different subsections and explain how to dispose of each individual heater type.

You will find out how to dispose of oil heaters, infrared heaters, ceramic heaters and fuel-powered heaters (like kerosene or propane heaters).

Here’s the short version: If your space heater is mostly plastic, you can dispose of it in your household trash. If your heater is mostly metal, you should bring it to the waste disposal site. And if your heater contains any hazardous materials or oil that you cannot drain, you should bring it to a hazardous waste depot.

Keep reading to find out more. We will also take a look at where you can find special waste disposal locations so you can recycle them properly.

The material of your Space Heater

First off, it’s very important to know which materials your space heater is made of. Most space heaters are mostly plastic. But there are exceptions.

For example heaters from the Dr. Infrared Heater brand are oftentimes made of wood. And other types of heaters, especially the ones that get really hot, can be made of metal entirely.

Oftentimes, you will also find a mix of materials in your space heater. Some parts are made of metal, some other parts are plastic. If your space heater is mixed material as well, then just look at the material that’s most present for your disposal decision.

Theoretically, you could also divide the materials and break your space heater down, but that’s lots of effort and trouble. And very likely, you’re going to hurt yourself. Or you risk that some hazardous materials leak. So, I don’t really suggest it.

Hazardous materials in space heaters

Sometimes, space heaters contain hazardous materials that have to be recycled properly. So, let’s take a look at which space heaters contain them.

Non-hazardous materials

Most materials space heaters are made of, are safe. You can easily dispose of them. They are plastic, metal, and wood. But you might also wonder about the heating elements of your space heaters.

For example, infrared heaters produce their heat using glowing red heating elements. At first, I thought they contain hazardous materials as well. However, as it turned out, infrared heating elements are made of quartz or ceramic. Both of which are safe to dispose of.

Ceramic heaters contain ceramic heating elements as well. Nothing to worry about.

Hazardous materials

Let’s talk about a few hazardous materials in space heaters.

Oil in oil-filled heaters

When you have a heater that contains oil that you cannot drain, you have to dispose of it properly. Otherwise, it could cause oil pollution, which has a significant environmental impact.

Just one liter of oil contaminates 1 million liters of water.

“Oil pollution can have a devastating effect on the water environment, it spreads over the surface in a thin layer that stops oxygen getting to the plants and animals that live in the water.”

Therefore, AVOID trashing your oil heater in your home garbage.

Fuel leftovers in fuel-powered heaters

This point applies to all fuel-powered heaters. Especially kerosene and diesel heaters. But also gas heaters, like propane or butane heaters.

Make sure that before you dispose of your space heater, all the fuel is burned off. Now, propane heaters oftentimes use portable gas-tanks as an energy source. So, there won’t be any gas leftovers.

But kerosene and diesel heaters require a direct refill within the heater. Please drain the fuel into a tank and use it somewhere else. Or make sure it is burned off.

When you dispose of your fuel-powered heater, it is important that there are no fuel leftovers in it.

electric space heater

How to dispose of different Space Heaters

Now that we covered the basics of waste removal, we can take a look at how to dispose of space heaters. It is actually not that hard to do. Here’s a small disposal guide for each heater type.

1. Infrared Heater

Infrared heaters are usually made of plastic. They contain electronic boards that you can either take out or simply leave them inside. For safety reasons, I suggest to just leave the electronics.

Now, because infrared heaters are usually made of plastic, and their heating elements are made of ceramic or quartz, you can get rid of them in your household trash. Ceramic and quartz are both non-hazardous materials.

If your infrared heater is mostly metal, you should bring it to a waste disposal depot. But you don’t need to go to a hazardous waste depot.

2. Electric heater

Electric heaters are heaters that heat just using a thin metal wire. The metal wire heats up when current flows through it. So, electric heaters don’t have any complex electronics or heating elements.

Usually, electric heaters are the heaters you find in cheap electronics or gadgets stores. Because these electric heaters are often in a cheaper price range, they are mostly plastic and thus you can also dispose of them in your household trash.

Cheap heaters are usually the easiest to dispose of.

3. Ceramic Heater

Ceramic heaters are heaters that make use of a ceramic heating element. Most heaters in the mid-price range are ceramic heaters. For example, when you buy a space heater off amazon, it is mostly a ceramic heater.

Ceramic heaters don’t contain any hazardous materials, which is why you can dispose of them safely in your household trash. However, ceramic heaters are oftentimes of a bigger size. So, if you have a big ceramic tower heater, for example, you can also call a bulky waste pickup service.

4. Oil-Filled Heater

Oil-filled heaters are harder to dispose of. Oil heaters are heaters that distribute their heat over a large metal body. That large metal body is filled with oil and permanently sealed. So, it’s impossible to drain the oil without big machinery.

That’s why oil heaters are hazardous waste. You cannot trash them in your household trash. Rather you should bring your oil-filled heater to a hazardous waste disposal site. They will take care of it.

Even though they are mostly metal, you shouldn’t bring oil heaters to a regular waste disposal depot. They might accept it but probably won’t handle the heater properly.

If you want to make sure that you can dispose of your oil heater at your depot, just call them and ask. That’s always the best thing to do.

Some waste disposal depots might accept oil-filled heaters, while others won’t.

5. Kerosene (or other fuel) Heater

Kerosene and other fuel-powered heaters are hazardous waste as well. Especially if they still contain some of the fuel.

However, if you have a propane heater or any other gas-powered heater you can oftentimes trash them at home. Because gas heaters need external gas tanks to run, they usually don’t contain gas themselves. Also, they are mostly made of plastic.

So, if you’re sure that your heater doesn’t contain fuel any more you can dispose of it in your household trash.

Conclusion: Space Heater Disposal

You can oftentimes dispose of your space heater at home. Ceramic heaters and infrared heaters are always safe to trash at home. Their heating elements don’t contain any hazardous materials.

However, if your heater is mostly made of metal, then you should bring it to a special waste disposal depot or a scrap dealer. You might even get a few bucks for your old heater.

And if you have an oil-filled heater, you have to bring it to a hazardous waste depot.

But here’s another idea:

Why don’t you just sell your heater online? You would avoid the hassle of bringing it to a waste disposal site and even get money for it.

Also, selling used items is environmentally friendly. Things don’t have to be reproduced over and over. And someone else can have fun with a space heater that he got for cheap. There are just so many advantages to selling compared to trashing things.

About the Author

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel is an electrical engineer, blogger, and author. He studied electrical engineering and information technology and decided to blog about heaters after working in the temperature sensing industry.