A warning from a firefighter about winter heating....

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by GottaLuvChicks, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. GottaLuvChicks

    GottaLuvChicks Out Of The Brooder

    66
    1
    41
    Oct 17, 2010
    Dillsburg, PA
    Although I am new to chickens, and am facing all the worries a lot of us are about keeping the chickens warm this winter is slamming me in the face for the first time, I am SERIOUSLY worried about all of the people talking about using different heating elements in ways not recommended by the manufacturers. Seeing mentions of heat tape, heat bulbs and ceramic heat emitters being used this way REALLY worries me. I also raise and breed a few different species of reptiles, and have LOTS of experience with finding ways to properly heat an enclosure. Being a firefighter also makes me worry a lot about some of the obvious fire hazards people are creating with these elements.

    Heat tape WILL catch on fire if not properly regulated with a thermostat and if it is exposed to water. Please do NOT use heat tape to do anything but keep your pipes from freezing (or heating a good snake enclosure). Most people have NO idea how to properly install heat tape, and leaving just one part open that is not to be exposed can cause serious issues. There is a lot to installing heat tape, and having something attached to an open container that holds water...I cringe even thinking about it.

    Ceramic heat emitters (the ones that produce heat but no light) can also be extremely dangerous - remember, it is not the LIGHT that causes fire hazards, but the amount of HEAT they produce. CHE's produce an INSANE amount of heat, and any dust collecting on them may very well start a fire. Also, as stated by someone else, you MUST use a fixture with a ceramic holder, NOT a metal or plastic one, as they can/will melt and cause another fire hazard. Even those of us reptile keepers that keep animals requiring around 100+ degree temps don't use anything more than a 40-60 watt CHE, and even then it's pushing it. Also, read the instructions on the box - it gives very specific information about the distance to keep those things from anything that could catch fire. I'll say it again - HEAT creates fire, NOT LIGHT.

    Heat bulbs are a really good way to get heat into an enclosure, sure, but ONLY if they are monitored and regulated properly. Putting them hanging from a chain or string or something similar swinging around in an area that is very dusty, has chicken feathers floating around, and god knows what else in there trying to get warm is a REAL way to start a fire (much less an injury hazard to your birds). Again, these bulbs produce an incredible amount of heat in a very concentrated area, and people are thinking about putting them in areas with litter, feathers and flimsy ways to secure them....it makes me want to cry.

    Although I am still somewhat struggling with how to make sure my gang is warm in the winter, I have to keep reminding myself that they are CHICKENS, not people, and that they can tolerate MUCH harsher weather and temps that I could even imagine. As so many people have recommended, use insulation, plastic wrap, tarps, good ventilation and other good sense, NON FIRE HAZARD ways to get your coop warm!! Stay safe, keep your chickens safe, and we will ALL get through this horrible cold time together with flying colors!!
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    7,738
    100
    321
    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    I second everything (s)he said.

    I know 4 people in MY AREA ALONE who've had a coop fire. Please don't even consider using anything but oil-filled radiators or heated dog mats, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
  3. GottaLuvChicks

    GottaLuvChicks Out Of The Brooder

    66
    1
    41
    Oct 17, 2010
    Dillsburg, PA
    Quote:Just an FYI, I am a "she" firefighter believe it or not! But thanks for the second!!
     
  4. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    A 100 watt red heat bulb burnt down my whole hatching house in January. All my baby chicks, incubators, everything was lost. It was MY fault for not having that heat lamp more secure and I've raised chicks for years with no trouble. SO don't think you have heat sources secure, KNOW it.
     
  5. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    7,738
    100
    321
    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    Quote:Just an FYI, I am a "she" firefighter believe it or not! But thanks for the second!!

    I actually typed 'she' to start with, because we have several 'she' firefighters here (one's my daughter's volleyball coach) and I had to change it, because I was laughing at MY MISTAKE!!! [​IMG]

    I actually have a neighbor who used to be a firejumper (isn't that what the wildfire fighters are called...the ones who jump in?) She's a tiny little thing, but wields a mean axe!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    What bothers me is seeing all the brooder lamps with plastic sockets rather than the ceramic ones. Never use the plastic ones with a heat lamp! They melt under those conditions. And secure them twice if you use them, one backup catch of some type in case the lamp gets knocked around somehow. Under most conditions, chickens don't need heat in winter, as long as they have a good draft-free (but with ventilation up high) coop and are closed in at night.
     
  7. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    7,738
    100
    321
    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    Yes, if you use a clamp-lamp for coop heat, please take a second and drill screws into whatever you're clamped to, both sides. It's not the best choice to keep using it, though...try to find a different option.
     
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Never count on only the clamp to hold those, you're absolutely right!
     
  9. Naughty

    Naughty Chillin' With My Peeps

    405
    0
    119
    Apr 10, 2010
    Wichita
    I have a clamp light ready for the coldest days - mostly just a light bulb that I plan to put the water under the light to keep it from freezing and add a touch of heat. I clamped it - put a hook in the beam and hooked it - then nailed the clamps up there ... lol - that aint falling down!
     
  10. GottaLuvChicks

    GottaLuvChicks Out Of The Brooder

    66
    1
    41
    Oct 17, 2010
    Dillsburg, PA
    Quote:Here is my biggest issue with that...what if something splashed up on that bulb somehow? Then you have glass shattered everywhere into your water, and an exposed heating element still turn on, which is a HUGE fire hazard...the issue with clamp lamps is NOT just that they can fall, but that they are pretty much unsafe in the environment of a chicken coop all together. Please rethink this idea, I would hate to see your safety or the safety of your flock compromised!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by