Every year, house fires due to issues with furnaces and space heaters occur in the Pittsburgh area. Your furnace and other appliances can also create a carbon monoxide danger. Ensure your family’s safety by following these heating safety tips.
10 Heating Safety Tips
- Check your filters monthly. Heating safety includes having clean filters. Check them every month and clean or replace them at least every three months. Not only will this keep your family safe, it’s financially smart. Clean filters ensure your furnace is working as efficiently as possible, driving down your utility costs. A dirty filter, on the other hand, will not only hurt your pocketbook, it can block air flow, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide leaking into your house.
- Use your eyes and ears to check your furnace. Many people don’t pay any attention to their furnace until there is a problem. Don’t wait until something goes wrong. Inspect your furnace, looking out for spots that appear in need of repair. Rust is often a sign that your furnace is in need of repair, but pay attention to anything that doesn’t look right or that looks different from your last inspection. Weird noises coming from your furnace can also be signs that something is wrong. If you notice rattling, popping, or banging, give us a call and we’ll diagnose the problem.
- Schedule professional maintenance annually. Speaking of inspections, heating safety self-checks can help you identify small problems before they become costly problems. But it’s still important to have a professional technician come to your house for a maintenance visit every year. Our certified technicians will make sure your system has no ventilation problems, broken parts, leaks, or electrical issues that could create a hazard. Scheduling your annual maintenance also ensures your system is running optimally, which saves you on your utility bills and extends the life of your system. When you need us, you can always check our savings page for applicable discounts!
- Keep the area around your furnace clear. Make sure there’s space around your furnace for proper ventilation. Keep air intake vents clear of any debris and dust that could get sucked into a vent or pilot light. Also, make sure there’s space between any large items that could obstruct your furnace, including old furniture and storage boxes. Don’t hang laundry near the furnace, as it can also reduce airflow, not to mention create a fire hazard. Boxes and paper (e.g., old newspapers) near your furnace also create a fire hazard. And it’s an absolute must for heating safety to keep gasoline, household cleaners, and other flammable products away from your furnace and other sources of heat!
- Invest in carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Every floor in your home should have a CO detector and one should be placed near your bedrooms. Make sure they’re in good working order and change the batteries regularly. Use your phone or a smart device in your home to set a recurring reminder to check your CO detectors and change the batteries. CO detectors are fairly inexpensive, and they can save your life!
- Have a family fire escape plan. Heating safety is fire safety! The Red Cross offers resources on fire safety, including an escape plan worksheet and fire safety presentations delivered virtually by local chapters. You can also join their waitlist to receive a free smoke alarm installation once the Red Cross restarts that program.* Make sure you change the batteries twice a year and check that your smoke detectors are working properly a few times in between battery changes.
- Follow safety guidelines for space heaters. Remember that space heaters shouldn’t be used to heat your entire home. If you have questions, we have a whole separate post about heating safety when it comes to space heaters! Follow your product’s safety guidelines to prevent fire and CO hazards.
- Consider your lighting. Lighting in the room where your furnace is also important for heating safety. You want the area to be well lit for self-inspections, for maintenance visits, and in case of emergency. Lightbulbs that are out or dim should be replaced, as they can pose a safety hazard. Having a reliable flashlight stored nearby is also smart in case of emergencies and to help with inspections.
- Keep the area kid- and pet-free. Child- and pet-proofing the area around your furnace is also critical for heating safety. Ensure children and pets can’t get too close to avoid burns from flames and vents, as well as the inhalation of dangerous fumes. Of course, the safety of your children and pets is paramount, but there’s also the risk that kids and animals could accidentally damage your furnace, which could lead to further safety concerns or costly repairs.
- Don’t use other appliances as additional sources of heat. Your stove, oven, dryer, or other appliance should not be used as a source of heat for your home. Doing so can create both fire and carbon monoxide dangers. Also, if your CO alarm goes off or if you smell gas, immediately get outside the house and call the fire department or the gas company for help!
Follow these heating safety guidelines to protect your family from fire and CO hazards this winter. If you haven’t already scheduled your annual furnace maintenance, give us a call today! We’ll make sure you’re running as safely and efficiently as possible!
*The Red Cross suspended their free smoke alarm installation program due to COVID, but they hope to get it underway again soon