Space heaters are popular during colder months but their increased use also requires an understanding of safety aspects.

One common issue is cords and plugs heating up. This article explains the reasons behind it, when it’s normal or concerning, and offers tips for safety and efficiency.

It addresses concerns about electric heater plugs and cords getting hot to provide a comprehensive guide for space heater users.

Reasons Why Space Heater Plugs Get Hot

It’s essential to understand these reasons to prevent accidents and protect your home when using electric heaters. Below are few

Reasons Why Electric Heater Plugs Get HotExplanation
Defective PlugA defective plug can cause it to overheat. It's essential to check the plug for any visible damage, such as cracks or frayed wires.
Bad ReceptacleA faulty receptacle can also cause your electric heater plug to get hot. If the receptacle is not making a good connection with the plug, it can lead to overheating. It's important to check that the receptacle is firmly connected and that there are no signs of damage.
Inappropriate WiringInappropriate wiring can lead to a hot electric heater plug. Make sure the wires are the correct size and type for the appliance and that there are no loose connections.
Improper CircuitIf the circuit is overloaded, it can cause the electric heater plug to overheat. Make sure that the circuit can handle the power requirements of the appliance.
Use of Extension CordsThe use of an extension cord can cause the electric heater plug to get hot. Extension cords are not designed to handle the power requirements of appliances like electric heaters. It's best to plug the appliance directly into an outlet.
Arcs and ShortsArcs and shorts in the electrical system can cause your electric heater plug to get hot. It's important to have an electrician inspect your electrical system to identify and address any potential issues.
Voltage FluctuationsVoltage fluctuations can cause your electric heater plug to get hot. If the voltage is too high, it can cause the appliance to draw more current than it needs, leading to overheating. If the voltage is too low, the appliance may not work correctly, and it can also lead to overheating.
Ambient TemperatureIf the ambient temperature is too high, it can cause your electric heater plug to get hot. Make sure to keep the appliance away from sources of heat such as radiators or direct sunlight.
Continuous UseUsing the electric heater continuously for an extended period can cause the plug to get hot. It's important to take breaks and turn off the appliance for a while to allow it to cool down.

Normal vs. Excessive Heat in Heater Plugs

Understanding the difference between normal and excessive heat in heater plugs is crucial to maintaining safety while using a space heater.

Check the power source to the electric baseboard central heating system

In this section, we’ll discuss how to identify safe temperatures and recognize signs that may indicate potential issues.

Identifying Safe Temperatures

It’s normal for a heater plug to become warm during operation due to the flow of electricity. However, a plug that is too hot to touch is a cause for concern.

Typically, a safe temperature range for a heater plug is slightly above room temperature. If the plug is significantly warmer than that, it could indicate a problem.

Signs of Potential Issues

Apart from an unusually hot plug, there are other indicators that suggest potential problems with your space heater. These include:

  1. Outlet gets hot with space heater: If the outlet itself becomes hot while using the heater, it could signify issues like loose connections, damaged wiring, or an overloaded circuit.
  2. Electric heater cord gets hot: A hot cord could indicate a damaged or frayed wire, which can be a fire hazard. Inspect the cord regularly for damage and replace it if necessary.
  3. Heater plug getting hot or showing signs of melting: A melted plug is a clear sign of excessive heat, which can result from a loose connection or a faulty plug. If you notice any signs of melting, stop using the heater immediately and consult a professional.
  4. Strange odors: A burning smell or the scent of hot plastic might signal an overheating plug or cord. Unplug the heater and investigate the source of the odor.

Preventing and Addressing Hot Outlets

Hot outlets can pose a significant risk when using space heaters, potentially leading to electrical fires or damage to your devices.

Replacing Old Wiring

Outdated or deteriorated wiring can be a major contributor to hot outlets. Worn-out wiring may struggle to handle the electrical load of a space heater, leading to overheating. If you live in an older home or suspect that your wiring may be outdated, it’s essential to have a qualified electrician inspect and replace any damaged or insufficient wiring to prevent hot outlets.

Avoiding Power Strips

While power strips may seem like a convenient solution for plugging in multiple devices, they’re not suitable for use with space heaters. Space heaters draw a considerable amount of power, which can quickly overload a power strip and cause it to overheat. Instead, plug your space heater directly into a wall outlet to minimize the risk of hot outlets and potential fires.

Fixing Loose Connections

Loose connections within an electrical outlet can cause resistance, leading to increased heat generation and, consequently, a hot outlet. If you suspect that a loose connection is causing your outlet to overheat, consult a professional electrician to diagnose and repair the issue. It’s crucial not to attempt any electrical repairs yourself, as this can be dangerous and lead to further complications.

Dealing with Melted Space Heater Plugs

A melted space heater plug is a serious issue that requires immediate attention. In this section, we’ll discuss the reasons behind melted plugs and how to prevent them from happening.

Reasons for Melted Plugs

There are several factors that can contribute to a melted space heater plug. Some common reasons include:

  1. Loose connections: A loose connection between the plug and the outlet can create resistance, generating heat and potentially causing the plug to melt.
  2. Overloaded circuit: If your space heater is connected to a circuit that’s already handling a high electrical load, it may lead to overheating and melting of the plug.
  3. Faulty plug: A defective plug can cause excessive heat generation, eventually leading to melting. This could result from manufacturing defects or wear and tear over time.
  4. Damaged wiring: Frayed or damaged wires within the heater cord can cause a short circuit, leading to overheating and melting of the plug.

How to Prevent Plug Melting

To avoid the risk of a melted space heater plug, follow these preventive measures:

  1. Inspect regularly: Check your space heater’s plug, cord, and outlet for any signs of wear, damage, or overheating. Address any issues immediately.
  2. Avoid overloading circuits: Ensure that your space heater is connected to a dedicated circuit without other high-power appliances to prevent overloading.
  3. Use a quality space heater: Invest in a reliable and well-built space heater from a reputable manufacturer to reduce the risk of faulty components.
  4. Maintain connections: Make sure your space heater’s plug is securely connected to the outlet, and avoid using any adapters or extension cords.

What to Do if Your Heater Cord Gets Hot or Melted

If you notice that your heater cord is getting hot or has melted, it’s essential to act quickly to prevent potential hazards. In this section, we’ll discuss the appropriate actions to take and when to seek professional help.

Taking Appropriate Action

  1. Unplug the heater: If your heater cord is hot or melted, immediately unplug the heater from the wall outlet. This will help prevent any further damage or risks associated with the issue.
  2. Inspect the cord: Examine the heater cord for any signs of damage, such as frayed wires, cuts, or kinks. If you find any damage, do not use the heater until the cord is replaced.
  3. Check the outlet: Inspect the outlet where the heater was plugged in for any signs of damage, overheating, or melting. If you notice any issues with the outlet, avoid using it until it’s been repaired.
  4. Evaluate the space heater: Assess the overall condition of the space heater, including its plug, cord, and internal components. If the heater appears damaged or compromised in any way, it’s crucial to address the issue before using it again.

When to Seek Professional Help

In some cases, it’s necessary to consult a professional to address the issue with your heater cord. Here are some instances when you should seek professional help:

  1. Damaged cord: If your heater cord is damaged or frayed, contact the manufacturer or a qualified technician for a replacement.
  2. Faulty outlet: If the outlet where the heater was plugged in is damaged or overheating, consult a professional electrician to repair or replace the outlet.
  3. Persistent heating issues: If your heater cord continues to get hot despite taking preventive measures, seek professional help to diagnose and fix the problem.


Here are some key tips for ensuring space heater safety:

  1. Regularly inspect the heater cord, plug, and outlet for signs of wear, damage, or overheating.
  2. Avoid overloading circuits and power strips, plugging the heater directly into a wall outlet.
  3. Replace any damaged cords, plugs, or outlets promptly to prevent potential hazards.
  4. Seek professional help when necessary to address any persistent or severe issues with your space heater.