HVAC Resources & Frequently Asked Questions

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7 Essential Furnace Safety Tips

‘Tis the season to fire up the furnace. But before you grab your blanket and hot chocolate, take some time to make your furnace ready for winter. After months of going unused in summer, furnaces need some maintenance before you start using them again. Upkeep helps your furnace stay in good condition. And above all, maintenance ensures your furnace won’t catch fire. Every furnace needs proper maintenance before temperatures drop. You may have one of four natural gas furnaces: central gravity models, floor models, central forced-air models, and wall models. Here are a few tips that you can use on any type of furnace to get them ready for winter:

1. Vacuum

Lint and dust causes hazards around your furnace. You can avoid dust build-up by vacuuming inside and around your furnace every month. If you neglect to vacuum, the dust may become a fire hazard. You can refer to your maintenance instructions for more details on cleaning. In addition, you can call a professional heating company with questions on upkeep. For wall furnaces, clean inside the burner compartments. Clean this area at least once a month during winter to avoid lint build up. For natural gas furnaces, the flame should burn blue. Orange or yellow flames may mean your furnace needs cleaning or adjusting by a professional.

2. Furnace Rules

Over the summer, your kids may have started playing near the furnace. They may not realize that furnaces are dangerous to play around. You may need to talk with them before you start using your furnace again to ensure no one gets hurt. Establish rules for play around the furnace. Help children understand the grill can get very hot. They should never play or get close to this area. Helping them realize the danger will keep them from getting too close. Having your kids play in a separate area also prevents them from leaving toys near the furnace.

3. Keep Air Flowing

Your furnace needs fresh air to work. If your furnace doesn’t get enough air, it may consume the oxygen in your home. Low levels of oxygen are very unsafe for you and your family. Furthermore, any blocks to air flow may also result in your furnace heating areas in your home unevenly. This will cause your furnace to work harder and will cost you more money. You can help by clearing obstructions and opening floor registers to keep heat spaced throughout your home.

4. Schedule Inspections

You have to keep up to date on yearly inspections so you know your furnace is in good shape. Schedule your annual tune-up just before winter. Technicians will determine if your furnace has any operational problems. In addition, they will clean your furnace to help avoid future breakdowns. Having a professional clean your furnace also ensures that your furnace is safe to use. Many accidents could happen if you tried to do maintenance yourself. Leave fix-it jobs for professionals. You can trust their experience to keep your family safe.

5. Keep Flammable Items Away

Clear away any items that may catch fire from heat. Some families use their furnace room for storage or laundry. If your furnace room has more than one purpose, make sure you keep this room as organized as possible. Any item left near the furnace becomes a hazard. If you use your furnace room as a laundry room avoid hanging clothes from furnace equipment. Also, keep cleaning solutions in airtight containers, including kitty litter. Ammonia fumes may corrode your furnace’s heat exchanger. Any flammable material stored near the low flash point area poses a high risk. Here are some materials to keep away from this area:

  • Gasoline

  • Paint or paint thinners

  • Wood scraps

  • Old rags

  • Papers

  • Sawdust

You should keep this area clear for efficiency and safety.

6. Replace Filters

Damaged or unchanged filters could cause breakdowns. A dirty filter may also cause performance problems in your furnace. To avoid these complications, change your filters at least every month or two. You may need to change your filters more often if you use your furnace often, have pets, or smoke.

7. Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Accidents happen, however you can keep your family safe by preparing for problems. With this in mind, replace batteries on carbon monoxide and fire alarms at least every year. You can also test both devices so you know they will warn you of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Schedule this maintenance period at the beginning of the winter so you know they will warn you of furnace glitches. In like manner, you can place them in the same room as the furnace for immediate fore warnings. You should also place detectors on every level of your home.

Use these simple steps to provide a safe and warm environment for the holidays. You can feel at ease during the winter season knowing you have an efficient and save furnace. Now that you know how to keep your furnace running safely, check out our other blogs for more tips on home heating.

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