‘Tis the season to fire up the furnace. But before you grab your blanket and hot chocolate, take some time to consider furnace safety this 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 will not catch fire. All Furnaces need 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.
Keeping your home warm is an essential part of preserving a comfortable living environment, but it can also represent many hazards such as fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor air pollution.
The National Fire Protection Association reported a total of 54,030 home structure fires involving heating equipment between 2011 and 2015. Central heating units and water heaters accounted for 21 percent of those fires. Here are a few tips that you can use on any type of furnace to get them ready for winter: (continue below)
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1. Schedule your annual tune-up: One of the most important aspects of an annual furnace tune-up is that we check to make sure that your system is running safely. During your tune-up, we’ll look for any problems like a cracked heat exchanger or frayed electrical wires that could lead to safety hazards in your home. That’s why a tune-up is essential if you want to have the peace-of-mind that your furnace will run safely all winter long!
2. Test your carbon monoxide detectors: A carbon monoxide leak is one of the biggest safety threats that a malfunctioning furnace can pose to your home. That’s why it’s important to check that all of your home’s carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Be sure to test all of the detectors in your home and install a fresh pair of batteries in each unit.
3. Test your smoke alarms: Certain severe furnace problems can lead to fire hazards, which is why this is the time of year that you should also be checking your home’s smoke alarms. Just like with your CO detectors, test all of the smoke alarms in your home and install a fresh pair of batteries in each unit.
4. Keep the area around your furnace clear: You can help minimize the chance of fire hazards from your furnace by keeping the area around your system clear. Although you should avoid storing anything near your furnace, this is especially true for any flammable products or materials.
5. Change your air filter when it’s dirty: A dirty air filter will restrict airflow to your furnace, which will overwork your system and can potentially increase the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. In addition, a dirty filter will allow dirt to build up on your furnace’s components, which can cause a number of efficiency, performance and safety issues. That’s why it’s important to check and/or change your filter once a month this winter.
6. Keep supply registers clean and open: While it may make sense, in theory, to close supply registers to unused rooms to save on heating bills, heating specialists suggest otherwise. A furnace needs constant, consistent airflow to function properly, or it may use up the oxygen in your home. Closed supply registers can allow water pipes to freeze even though the frozen pipe is not in the room with the closed supply register.
“It’s also possible to damage your furnace by closing too many air registers,” according to Angie’s List. “Closing off registers creates less airflow, which forces the furnace to work harder. It’s also possible that limited airflow may cause the furnace to blow air that is too hot and trip the limit safety switch in the furnace.
7. Watch for heat exchanger issues: A gas furnace’s heat exchanger is the furnace component that actually heats the air. A cracked heat exchanger is a serious safety issue, as the gases being burned off, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide, could leak into your home, causing illness or, in extreme cases, death. Getting an annual furnace safety inspection will help spot cracks in heat exchangers. A licensed professional can test for heat exchanger issues and let you know what your options may be.
8. Replace older furnaces: Like an old car, an old furnace that requires costly repairs is signaling that it’s near the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced soon. Even if your furnace has a few years left in it, it may not be cost efficient to keep it if your energy bills during the heating season are high due to the furnace’s poor efficiency.
Newer furnaces are cleaner, operate more safely, produce less pollution, and are built to meet modern building codes. If your furnace is over 18 years old or if it is requiring frequent repairs, it may be time to replace it.
In addition, after July 3, 2019, residential furnace manufacturers must include energy-efficient electronically commutated motors (ECM’s) on their furnace fans, which are expected to save homeowners significant money on electricity bills.
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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