Are Saunas A Fire Hazard? (And What to Do About It)

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Saunas are one of the best at-home amenities. Once they’re installed in your home, they require very little maintenance. They have very few mechanical components too, which means it’s unlikely they’ll break down. Their reliability and health benefits are just a few of the reasons many property owners install one in their homes. However, if you’re considering a sauna, you might be curious about potential fire hazards.

Saunas do pose a risk of fire to homes since the nature of their operation is to create heat. Since they’re usually heated with electric heaters and constructed of wood, a fire can start if there’s a malfunction. 

Since saunas are not fire-proof, homeowners should be mindful of any issues with the sauna and perform proper maintenance. Usually, sauna fires start near the heater. It gets too hot and ignites the wood, which can cause severe property damage and fatalities. To learn everything there is to know about preventing sauna fires, where to install one in your home, and all the proper safety protocols, continue reading.

How to Prevent Sauna Fires

A white ceiling mounted Fire Alarm

A fire in your home is a catastrophic and entirely preventable event. Saunas are designed with strict safety standards. These days, they include safety shutoff timers and temperature sensors that automatically turn the heaters off if it gets too hot. However, sometimes that is not enough to prevent fires, especially if the safety mechanisms fail or malfunction. Sauna fires can be caused by: 

  • Heater malfunctions, like getting too hot or failing to turn off
  • Electrical issues, such as sparks and shorting
  • Dry wood in the sauna, which has a low burning temperature
  • Combustible materials, like towels left on top of the heater

If you currently own a sauna or plan to have one installed in your home, you should learn the best practices to prevent sauna fires. If you ignore all fire safety checks, the worst-case scenario is that your house burns down entirely, and you lose all of your personal belongings.

Or worse, it could lead to loss of life and devastating bodily injuries. We can’t stress the importance of fire safety enough. Here are some safety precautions homeowners can take to protect their homes against sauna fires. 

Hire Professional Installers 

Saunas should only be installed in your home by experienced professionals. They will design it properly to prevent fires and include fire protection measures when they complete the installations, many of which have been demanded by the law.

Think of it this way; you probably wouldn’t install a new gas furnace in your home on your own if you have no experience. There’s a risk you’ll do something wrong and cause a gas leak. This is the same logic you should apply to saunas; have it done right, so you do not worry about fires occurring. 

Get a Smoke Alarm and Fire Extinguisher 

Worker installing smoke detector on the ceiling

Smoke alarms don’t exactly prevent fire from occurring. However, they are a great warning system that a fire has started. A smoke alarm placed near the sauna can detect if there’s smoke within just a few seconds. Along with a smoke alarm, homeowners with saunas should have a fire extinguisher located near the entrance of the sauna.

That way, if a fire does start, you can quickly put it out. Be sure to familiarize yourself with how the fire extinguisher works, so you can more swiftly use it if you need it. Lastly, consider using a smart smoke detector like the Google Nest smoke and carbon monoxide detector (on Amazon) to get alerts even if you are not home for better alarming capabilities.  

Install Protective Slats

Protective slats go over the sauna heater and provide a buffer between the heater and the rest of the sauna. It is less likely that something left on top of it (like a towel) will catch on fire with the slats. It is not foolproof, but it does help reduce the risk. 

Install Sprinkler Heads

Similar to smoke detectors, sprinklers do not prevent fires. However, they are fantastic at putting them out and preventing your entire house from burning down. If you have the extra money, the installation of a sprinkler head above the sauna is a practical and common fire safety measure. 

However, this can be extremely difficult and expensive to do depending on where the sauna is located.

Use a Manual Power Switch 

If you want to ensure your sauna is powered off, use a manual on and off switch. When you’re not using the sauna, the default can be off. Therefore, if it doesn’t have any power, it cannot create heat to start a fire.
In addition to the manual switch, you can use automatic timers (usually built-in) to turn the sauna off automatically if you forget.

For a simple small sauna kit that uses a standard wall plug for power, an outlet timer, like this 8 outlet surge protector timer (on Amazon), could be used to ensure the sauna isn’t left on. With that being said, most big intense sauna kits will have timers built-in already.

Consistently Check the Heater 

Before you leave the sauna, make a mental note to always check around the heater. Make sure it is clear of magazines, clothes, towels, food wrappers, etc., before departing. Tell all your sauna guests to do the same as well. 

Inspect the Heater and the Wood

Every time you leave or enter the sauna, you should check around the heater for any signs of charring or excess heat around the heater. If you notice something suspicious, get the heater checked out by a professional sauna service before using it again. 

Routine Maintenance 

Performing proper and routine maintenance on your sauna will help prevent fires from occurring. Each sauna manufacturer has different recommendations, so check your manual for details and service intervals. 

Where Should You Put a Sauna In Your House To Prevent Fires?

In terms of fire hazards, saunas can be installed in most locations in a home within an increased risk of fires started. Typically, when sauna fires do occur, they begin on the inside near the heater. Therefore, the external environment, i.e., the room they’re located in, doesn’t matter much. 

However, placing them near a gas supply, like a gas stove or gas furnace, can be an issue if a fire starts. The fire can spread and be fueled into a more extensive fire by the gas line. Check out our detailed sauna placement guide to determine the best area to locate a sauna in your house.

Do Saunas Lower the Value of Your Home? 

With all this talk about saunas potentially causing fires, you might be thinking – does this danger make my home worth less now? Well, don’t worry. In most cases, saunas increase the value of the homes that have them installed.

To ensure that your sauna does not deter from the value of your home, you should be sure to cover your basis on fire protection. Many buyers can shy away from purchasing homes if they see a shotty sauna installation that looks like a fire hazard. Use the helpful tips in this guide to show potential buyers you mean business in preventing sauna fires. 

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