8 Essential Furnace Safety Tips for Homeowners

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Without proper care and maintenance, furnaces may need costly repairs and become a safety hazard. Here are some tips to ensure your furnace can continue functioning without issues. This way, your home can stay warm, and your family can stay safe.

1 – Schedule Regular Professional Inspections

A professional technician will check for wear and tear, clean vital components, and ensure everything functions correctly. This proactive approach can help prevent potential problems before they become serious issues, keeping your home safe and your furnace running smoothly.

2 – Change Your Air Filters Frequently

Air filters are crucial in maintaining your furnace’s efficiency and safety. Over time, filters can become clogged with dust, dirt, and other debris, restricting airflow and causing your furnace to work harder than necessary. This increases energy bills and can lead to overheating and potential safety hazards.

The solution is to change your air filters regularly—every one to three months, depending on the type of filter and your household conditions. When shopping for new filters, you can check the packaging for manufacturer recommendations on how long they should be used.

3 – Keep the Area Around the Furnace Clear

You shouldn’t keep any clutter or flammable materials around your furnace. Items like paper, cleaning supplies, and other household products should be stored safely away from them. This precaution helps reduce the fire risk and allows your furnace to operate more efficiently by ensuring proper airflow.

When heated by the furnace, volatile materials can also release toxic fumes, posing a safety hazard.

4 – Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in large quantities. Furnaces, especially those that burn natural gas, oil, or propane, can produce CO if not correctly maintained. To protect your family, install CO detectors on every level of your home and near all sleeping areas.

That said, while carbon monoxide detectors are essential, they’re only helpful if they work. Test them once a month to confirm that none have died, and replace the battery on each detector once a year.

Most CO detectors have a test button conveniently located on the front of the unit. You may need to dig to find the test function if yours doesn’t.

You should get a furnace safety inspection once a year, preferably before the cold season starts

5 – Inspect Ventilation Systems

Proper ventilation is crucial for the safe operation of your furnace. Over time, vents and ducts can become obstructed by dust, debris, or even pests. These obstructions can lead to inefficient heating and dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.

Regularly inspect your ventilation systems to ensure they are clear and unobstructed. Pay special attention to the outdoor vent, ensuring it is free from snow, ice, or other blockages that could impede proper airflow.

6 – Check for Gas Leaks

If your furnace uses natural gas or propane, regularly checking for gas leaks is crucial. They can pose significant safety risks, including the potential for explosions. A safety inspector will look for these, which is why getting an inspection once a year is important. That said, you should also keep an eye out for leaks.

The first and most common method of detecting a gas leak is recognising the distinct odour added to natural gas and propane, which smells like rotten eggs. If you detect this robust and unpleasant smell, it indicates a potential leak.

In addition to relying on your sense of smell, you can also listen for any hissing or whistling sounds near your furnace or gas lines. These noises often result from gas escaping through a small hole or crack. Another effective method is to use a gas leak detector, a handheld device designed to sense the presence of gas in the air. These detectors are cheap, easy to use, and immediately indicate if there is a gas leak.

7 – Monitor Unusual Noises or Smells

Your furnace should operate relatively quietly and without any strange odours. If you notice unusual noises like banging, rattling, or squealing, or if you detect odd smells such as burning or gas, it could indicate a problem that needs immediate attention.

These signs could point to various issues, from a loose component to a gas leak — as mentioned — or an electrical problem. Contacting a professional to check in on these noises can not only prevent accidents but also help you save on expensive repairs down the line.

8 – Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby

While furnace fires are not exceedingly common, it’s always better to be prepared. Keeping a fire extinguisher near your furnace can provide a quick response option in the unlikely event of a fire. This is important when a few minutes of delay can differentiate between a scary but contained accident and a widespread house fire.

Ensure you have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher, which is suitable for most household fires, including those that could start from a furnace. It should be located where it can be easily accessed, and in an area you can still access if the furnace is burning.

You should also ensure that everyone in your household knows where the extinguisher is located and how to use it. These are simple precautions that can make a huge difference in an emergency.

Ref: 3384.33649/02E74263

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