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Can Curtains Touch Radiators? (Quick Answers)

Several machines use radiators, for example, air conditioners, car engines, etc. Radiators are devices that transfer thermal energy from one form to another to cool and heat. Even though they are called radiators, they transfer heat to the environment by radiation and convection.

Can curtains touch radiators?

Curtains should not touch radiators as they can easily catch fire from radiators. Electric radiators can get hot enough to light any flammable materials on fire. Water radiators may not get warm enough to cause fires but may damage any fragile materials nearby.

Radiators cool the coolant that passes through them. As a result, radiators are always a source of heat. Even if they are working to cool the coolant inside them, they release heat to the surrounding by convection and radiation and cause the surrounding temperature to rise.

Water radiator:

Old water radiators use water to heat up. Old radiators are safer than modern radiators that reach dangerously high temperatures. As old water radiators do not get too hot, they are safe for curtains and other flammable objects.

Steam radiator:

Similar to water radiators, steam radiators use steam to heat up. Unlike the modern water or steam radiators, old steam radiators do not reach significant temperatures to be considered dangerous. Therefore, old steam radiators are safer than modern radiators.

Electric radiator:

Modern radiators use electricity instead of water or steam to heat up. As electricity works faster than steam or water, electrical radiators are more efficient. 

As these are more efficient, they can transfer heat to the surroundings quicker than old water or steam radiators.

Electrical radiators can heat up faster than steam or water radiators. They can reach dangerously high temperatures that can light curtains or any other flammable materials on fire if they are nearby. 

Therefore, do not keep curtains or any other flammable materials close to electrical radiators.

Is it dangerous for curtains to touch radiators? Can curtains catch fire from a radiator?

Most curtains are made from flammable fabric. Curtains made from flammable material will light up on fire if placed too close to the radiator. Also, if the curtains touch the radiator for a long time, they will likely catch on fire.

Curtains catching fire depends on the radiator type and design. If the radiator is old water or steam radiator, then curtains hanging over the radiator will burn but not catch on fire. 

However, if the radiator is an electric radiator like most modern radiators, any curtains touching the radiator may catch fire.

Therefore, it is dangerous for curtains or flammable objects to touch radiators. Materials that are in contact with a radiator for too long may burn and light up on fire. It is best not to hang curtains directly over any radiator as they may be damaged.

Should you tuck curtains behind radiators?

As mentioned earlier, curtains made of flammable fabrics may catch on fire if placed near or on top of radiators. If it is a water or steam radiator, the curtains will only experience burning due to high temperatures. 

However, if it is a modern electrical radiator, the curtains are more likely to catch fire.

In most homes, the radiators are placed under windows. As a result, curtains are left hanging on top of radiators. On the other hand, floor-length curtains touch the radiators directly below them.

Some people tuck the floor-length curtains behind radiators to make it look tidier. In the case of water or steam radiators, the curtains will burn but will not catch on fire. However, in the case of an electric radiator, there is a high chance of the curtain catching on fire.

Therefore, you should not tuck curtains behind radiators. Even if the curtains do not light up on fire due to the heat, they will still be damaged and burnt.

What happens when curtains touch radiators?

When curtains touch radiators, these are what happens:

Burning curtains:

Since radiators radiate a lot of heat, they may warm up to dangerous temperatures. As a result, curtains directly over or touching a radiator may burn. Water or steam radiators do not get hot enough to cause the curtain to light up on fire. 

But they can damage the curtain significantly by burning the part in contact with the radiator. So, most people advise against curtains touching the radiator.

The curtain may catch on fire:

Radiators are a source of heat. Many people use radiators to warm their homes in the winter. Most radiators are placed near windows. Their location causes curtains to hang over or directly touch the radiator. 

Modern radiators can reach temperatures that are significant to cause flammable objects to light up on fire. Therefore, curtains directly in contact with a radiator may light up on fire. It is advised to keep some gap between a curtain and a radiator.

Inefficient heating:

Most curtains are made from thick fabrics. Thick fabrics make them prevent air from flowing through them. When curtains touch radiators, the curtains may block the warm air coming out of a radiator. 

As a result, the heating radiator may not work as intended. Instead, it will continue warming the area behind the curtains and prove inefficient.

How to hang curtains when you have radiators?

Follow the steps below to know how you can hang curtains when you have radiators:

Determine the length of your curtains:

The length of your curtains is significant. If you have floor-length curtains, you need to keep some clearance between the curtains and the radiator. You need to keep some space to ensure that the curtains do not touch the radiator when they are closed.

Furthermore, if you have curtains that reach slightly below the window, not till the floor, you need to make sure the curtain does not touch the radiator. You will have to keep some space between the hanging curtain and the radiator below.

Use an extended rod or bracket and hang the curtains:

If you are trying to hang floor-length curtains, you will need to use an extended rod, rack, or equivalent. The extended rod will prevent the curtains from touching the radiator when closed. Also, when you close the curtain, they will not block the hot air from flowing into the room.

After you have installed an extended rod or bracket, hang the curtains. If you feel like you cannot install the extended rod or bracket, try calling a professional to get it installed for you. Afterward, you can hang the curtains on the extended rod.

Ensure there is enough space:

After you have hung the curtains, check if there is enough clearance between the curtains and the radiator. If the curtains are floor-length, make sure the curtains are far enough from the radiator. 

In case of curtains that are not floor-length, make sure the curtains do not touch the radiator when they are closed.

If you have followed the steps correctly, you have correctly hung curtains in a room that has a radiator. The most significant part to keep in mind is keeping enough clearance between the radiator and the curtains.

How to stop radiator heat from going behind curtains?

If you want to stop radiator heat going behind the curtains, you can use the following techniques:

Avoid covering the radiator with curtains:

When the curtains are closed, make sure that the curtains are not covering the radiator. Keep the curtains a little apart to allow the hot air to move between the curtains.

Use a pass-through fabric curtain:

If you need the curtains to be closed entirely and the curtains are floor-length, use curtains that have pass-through fabric. Having a thin curtain will let the hot air pass through the curtains.

Avoid using floor-length curtains:

Use curtains that do not drop till the floor. You can hang curtains just below the window sill, over the radiator, so the radiator is not blocked with thick curtains.

Use an extended window sill:

You can use an extended window sill so that the curtains do not drop below the window sill. In this way, the radiator will not be blocked, and the hot air will freely flow into the room.

Final Thoughts

Old radiators that use steam or water to heat up are safer than modern radiators. Vintage radiators will not light curtains on fire but will burn them. However, modern electrical radiators may get too hot and light curtains on fire. Therefore, curtains should not touch radiators.