I’ve already talked quite a bunch about space heaters and other devices making noise on this website.
But I am not really satisfied. After all, I can describe all the sounds space heaters make, but you still can’t be sure whether the sound your space heater is making is safe or needs repair.
In this article, I want to take a different approach.
For each sound, I will embed a real-life noise sample you can play and listen to.
This way, you can be absolutely sure about each noise type.
Quick answer: Space heaters making clicking or humming noises are safe and expected. Rattling indicates loose parts. Screeching, squealing, or buzzing noises indicate electric issues. Fix or replace your heater.
Space Heater making noise: Safe or replace?
Let’s have a look at the different noises space heaters make, whether they are safe and what to do about each noise.
For each space heater noise, I included a sound recording!
Clicking noises in a space heater are usually safe and expected.
Clicking noise sound recording:
When a space heater heats up, its surface material expands, which builds up tension. When that tension releases, a clicking sound occurs.
My infrared heater always makes a clicking sound after 10 – 15 minutes of heating.
That same clicking noise also occurs when I shut the infrared heater off. When the heater cools down and contracts, materials have to resettle in place and click when they release tension.
Another explanation for the clicking noise in a space heater is the built-in thermostat. Most space heaters that have a basic built-in thermostat make use of a so-called “two-point control”.
Two-point control is the simplest of all control mechanisms: It’s a switch switching the heater on and off automatically depending on the room’s temperature. Two-point control also switches to protect the space heater from overheating.
In space heaters with built-in thermostats, clicking noises are expected and perfectly safe.
Humming noise in a space heater is usually safe.
Humming noise sound recording:
When your space heater draws power from the wall outlet, it has to transform the high alternating voltage to a lower voltage which the built-in electronics can handle.
For this, space heaters contain a transformer, which is a common electric component. Transformers work only with alternating currents and voltages.
And the alternating currents coming from your wall outlet cause the transformer to make a humming noise.
Similarly, the humming noise can also come from the heating elements if your space heater just forwards the electric power to the heating elements without a transformer.
The electric power causes the heating element to vibrate and make a humming noise.
Screeching noise is usually not safe and indicates a problem in the heater’s electronics.
Screeching noise sound recording:
Space heaters make screeching noises when there’s a loose or broken connection, or when a part is about to fail.
Usually, the source of the screeching is fixable. However, since space heaters are power electronics, I recommend only fixing them yourself, if you have solid electronics knowledge and you have good soldering skills.
Hiring a technician is also an option. However, the cost of hiring someone is oftentimes higher than simply replacing the space heater with a new one.
So, if your space heater makes a screeching noise, I recommend getting a new one.
Squealing noises indicate an electric failure and possibly a broken heating element.
Squealing noise sound recording:
Also, squealing noises can come from a capacitor in the built-in circuitry. In any case, it means that your space heater is broken and not safe to use.
If your space heater makes a squealing noise, replace it.
A space heater making a buzzing noise can be either safe or unsafe to use.
Buzzing noise sound recording:
The buzzing can come from the transformer (similar to the humming noise). In this case, it is likely safe.
However, buzzing can also be a sign of an electronic fault.
For example, when there’s a short circuit or a blown part, the transformer might not be able to deliver all the power from the wall outlet to the heating elements. This superfluous power in the space heater can cause the buzzing.
In this case, the buzzing noise indicates a problem that needs to be fixed.
I recommend getting a new space heater since it’s usually the easiest and fastest solution.
Usually, it’s easy to distinguish safe buzzing from unsafe buzzing by asking yourself the question
“Did your space heater make a buzzing noise when it was new?”.
A new space heater making a buzzing noise is likely safe. However, if your space heater was quiet initially and only started making a buzzing noise later, it is unsafe and needs fixing or replacement.
Rattling noises usually come from loose moving parts in your space heater.
Rattling noise sound recording:
One example is the built-in tip-over protection in many oil-filled radiators. When you move your space heater around, it makes a rattling noise, because, by design, the tip-over switch switches when you move your heater.
If that’s the case for you, the rattling is perfectly safe.
Another possible cause of a rattling noise can be a built-in fan inside your space heater. Broken bearings or loose parts can cause a continuous rattling sound.
You can disconnect your space heater from the wall outlet, disassemble it and check whether the fan sits firmly in position.
Another phenomenon is intermittent rattling. That’s when your space heater rattles for a few seconds or minutes after turning on. Then the rattling noise fades away.
Possibly, the rattling returns later.
This can be the case when your space heaters’ heating elements or a transformer, or other high-power components don’t sit in place firmly and vibrate during power surges.
Intermittent rattling is not dangerous. But it is not expected in a well-working space heater either.
Although you can possibly keep running your rattling space heater, I recommend getting a new one just to get rid of the annoyance.
More space heater noises
If your space heater makes a strange noise, please record it (or describe it) and send it to me: [email protected]
I will check it personally and send you an explanation plus what to do about the noise within 24 hours (for free of course)!
In fact, that’s why I included the section about the rattling noise:
“You didn’t cover rattling noise but mine is intermittent and it seems to have gone away after warming up. It just started rattling/clacking (I guess?) [How to describe sounds lol] but I’m hoping once I blow out the dust it will be okay.”Hayle
So, feel free to reach out to me!
Recommended replacement heater
If the noise your space heater makes is screeching, squealing, or buzzing, you should get a new space heater.
Both are great products. Oil-filled radiators are, however, safer and cheaper than infrared heaters.
On the other hand, infrared heaters heat a lot faster. And, the glowing red heating elements look nice!
Decide however you prefer.
Is your space heater making noise safe?
Here’s a summary of the findings:
|Noise||Is it safe?|
|Buzzing||could be dangerous or safe (check the “buzzing noise” section)|
|Rattling||safe, but annoying|
Video: Space heater making noise
The origin of this blog post is a YouTube video on space heater noises with sound examples from me. I got dozens of inquiries, so I decided to write up this article.
Have a look: