A furnace is a vital piece of equipment that helps maintain bearable indoor conditions in the chilly months. However, like any other fuel-burning appliance, a furnace can cause safety hazards when neglected. It’s therefore important that you take good care of your unit and pay attention to suspicious or faulty functions. Always be on the lookout for potential dangers that the unit could pose. Here are some safety guidelines that you can apply to keep your furnace running safely.
1. Keep Flammable Elements Away
You should never place any combustible item near the furnace to minimize the chances of a fire hazard. If your furnace room serves more than one purpose, keep it organized. Avoid leaving clothes hanging near the equipment for those who use the furnace room as a laundry area. Also, keep all the containers with cleaning solutions and other flammable liquids tightly closed to prevent accidental ignition.
The furnace can also pick up fumes from such chemicals and recirculate them back into the house, which can cause health problems. Do not let rugs, blankets, furniture, or any other item block the airflow. Note that lighter objects like paper, sawdust, and wood scraps can also easily get attached to the unit, limiting airflow, resulting in a fire.
2. Ventilate and Leave Enough Space Around the Unit
The source of power for furnaces is either electricity, gas, or oil. The unit, therefore, requires a consistent flow of air to work optimally. With restricted airflow, the unit will overheat, causing a fire. If the furnace lacks sufficient air, it may even begin to use up the oxygen in your house, and low oxygen levels can be very hazardous to your family members.
Without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide can also build up in the house. Therefore, clear any obstructions near the air intake or vents, and remove items leaning against the furnace. If your furnace room appears somewhat smaller, it’s a good idea that you drill more ventilation openings on the wall and door to let in enough air for combustion.
3. Change the Air Filters Often
The air filters trap pollen, pet dander, dust particles, and other contaminants from your indoor air that can affect your health and comfort. With time, such contaminants may build up and clog the unit. As a result, your furnace will need to work extra harder to maintain the desired temperature. This results in higher utility bills and puts strain on vital components. If you continue to use the furnace under such conditions, it will eventually break down at the least expected time, leaving your house feeling chilly, which is dangerous to your health.
Overworking the furnace also increases the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. With a clogged filter, the furnace will blow such contaminants into the house. This can trigger asthmatic reactions, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses. To avoid breathing such particles, ensure that you change the air filters after every three months. If you have a heavily shedding pet or run your unit for long, change the filters monthly.
4. Regularly Vacuum the Area Around the Furnace
Always keep the area around the furnace clean. Regularly vacuum the surfaces around your unit to prevent lint build-up, which is a fire hazard. When you neglect the furnace, dust accumulation can cause the unit to heat up. You, therefore, need to call a professional often to clean all the components and avoid such issues.
5. Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Ensure that you have a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your furnace room to protect your family from fire. Note that carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, which makes it hard to detect. The dangerous gas inhibits your blood’s ability to circulate oxygen, affecting the brain and heart functionality. In higher doses, it can even cause death. Inspect the carbon monoxide detector and alarms often, change the batteries annually, and ensure they are working properly.
6. Get Regular Maintenance
You can avoid most furnace safety issues by scheduling for regular maintenance. The professional will check the combustion chamber for cracks and fix them to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. They will also fix frayed electrical wires that could lead to safety hazards. Experienced technicians have the right skills and tools to diagnose any underlying issue in the unit and fix it before it grows into a bigger problem.
Tune-ups also include lubricating moving parts to allow for smooth operation, adjusting gas pressure, testing the exhaust system, performing voltage and current checks. This will help prevent frustrating breakdowns, ensure that the unit runs efficiently, and maintain safe operations.
7. Educate Your Children on Furnace Safety Precautions
Children are usually very curious, and the furnace can easily grab their attention. Therefore, warn them against playing near the unit. Educate them on the dangers of mishandling the furnace. Let them know that the grille usually gets hot and that they can get burned. They can even leave their toys near the furnace, which obstructs the airflow and affect the unit’s functionality. Also, establish furnace rules to keep your children from getting close to this area.
8. Call a Professional if You Suspect a Problem With Your Unit
Pay attention to furnace damage signs. If you notice rust on the unit, call a technician to inspect the extent of the damage and advice on the best cause of action. Don’t ignore strange noises and odors coming from your unit. Be aware of carbon monoxides poisoning signs like headaches, nausea, loss of consciousness, confusion, weakness, and dizziness. Once you notice such signs, switch off the unit, get everybody out of the house, open up all windows, and immediately seek professional assistance.
Call a professional if you have difficulties starting your unit if the furnace produces inadequate heat or you notice poor indoor air quality. Pay attention also to the color of the pilot light. A well-functioning unit should have a bluish pilot light. Once it turns yellow, it indicates a ventilation problem, which causes incomplete combustion. Contact a professional HVAC technician if you suspect anything’s wrong with your furnace to be on the safe side.
Need Help in Maintaining Safe Operations of Your Furnace?
One of the best ways to ensure your family’s safety during winter is by knowing how to operate your furnace safely. Even if you have never experienced an issue in the unit, you need to know how to spot warning signs early enough and seek help on time. Also, ensure that you have the furnace installed by a professional. Note that the furnace contains some complex components, and when mishandled, it can result in electrocution, fire, explosions, or carbon monoxide poisoning. While you can do some maintenance tasks like changing the air filters and cleaning around the unit on your own, leave complex tasks to a qualified technician. A professional has the right knowledge and skills to perform repairs safely and ensure that your furnace operates optimally throughout the season.
Whenever something goes wrong with your furnace, seek help from Shines Energy. Our company provides quality heating and cooling systems solutions. We also offer water heaters, indoor air quality, HVAC zoning, and UV lights services in Dartmouth, NS, and the surrounding areas. Call us now to schedule an appointment with the experts.