Fall Maintenance for Your Furnace

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Trane XR80 Single-Stage Furnace

With the fall season well underway, you may have already gotten some use out of your furnace. Before you start using your furnace full time, you may want to take some time and get it ready for the cold nights ahead. One of the best ways to prevent damage to your heating system and lengthen its potential life is to ensure that it receives proper maintenance every single year.

In general, the best time of year to provide basic furnace maintenance is before the heating system begins. However, this can be a busy time of year with school starting up and workloads getting heavier. That being said, it is never too late to do a quick inspection of your heating system, especially if you rely on it to keep you warm all winter long.

Pick Up Some Replacement Filters

The beginning of the season is the best time to stock up on all the filters you will need for the fall, winter and early spring. Make sure you purchase the right filters for your system so that they properly remove contaminants from your recirculating air. Not only will a clean filter improve the energy efficiency of your unit, but it will also prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your system. By getting a full supply all at once, you will have no reason to avoid changing out the filter.

Do a Basic Inspection of Your System

You may be surprised at just what a simple inspection can do for your HVAC equipment. Even if you do not know much about your heater or furnace, you can inspect the wires and pipes for rust or corrosion. If the pipes or wires are rusting, there is a chance that your system could suddenly stop working when you need it most. Further, dust accumulating on the heating coils can indicate that the system is in desperate need for a checkup. The last thing you want is for all that dust to end up in the air that you breathe.

Other obvious problems that you want to look for include leaks and airflow issues. Not only can these leaks and airflow problems result in poor indoor air quality for you and your family during the fall and winter, but it could be dangerous for your home. If you do find a problem, get a professional to help you fix it before it becomes a major catastrophe.

Schedule a Fall Tune Up

Although you are the first line of defense for your heating system, you may not have all of the necessary knowledge needed to keep your system running smoothly. As such, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional HVAC contractor you trust. During the tune up, there are multiple things that they will check, including the pilot light, the motors and the combustion chamber and heat exchanger condition. The vent pipes will also be checked to ensure that CO is not being pumped into the home.

There is another major reason you should consider having a professional HVAC contractor. Some manufacturer and extended warranties can become voided if the equipment is not regularly maintained by a licensed professional.

Stay Efficient during the Winter

Although regular maintenance can have some costs to it, you will find that the positives of regular maintenance far outweigh the risks. Not only will regular maintenance extend the lifespan of your current heating system, saving you more in long run, but you can also make your home more comfortable. By keeping your heating system maintained, you will never need to worry about coming home to a cold home after a long day at work.

Dealing with Sick Building Syndrome

Friday, January 8th, 2016

OfficeHave you ever left for work or school only to feel ill or groggy once you step into the building? You may be suffering from symptoms that are associated with sick building syndrome.

What is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick building syndrome is a range of symptoms that are often associated with spending time in a certain building. These symptoms usually abate once the person leaves. While the symptoms are often flu-like, there often seems to be no specific cause.
The symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • General feelings of fatigue
  • Loss of breath
  • Irritated eyes and blocked nose

In some cases, the person may suffer from a single symptom or they may suffer from a combination of symptoms. The symptoms can range from person to person; one person may suffer one set of symptoms while another person may suffer a completely different set of symptoms.

Who is Most Affected by Sick Building Syndrome?

Those who work in buildings that have a mechanical air conditioner and no opening windows seem to be more likely to suffer from sick building syndrome. While workplaces with open floor plans often have employees complaining of these types of symptoms, children who spend all day at school or who spend time at the library are also susceptible. Occasionally, those who work at home also suffer from these symptoms.

Additionally, those who are stuck routinely using display screen equipment, including computers, are also more at risk. This can hit students or office workers particularly hard, especially since there often is not a way to get some time off the computer during the busy times of the year.

What are Some Potential Causes of Sick Building Syndrome?

While there is no known specific cause of sick building syndrome, there are certain things that may be a factor. Poor indoor air quality can be a big component, especially if the building has poor ventilation. In workplaces that are cleaned regularly at night or have stored chemicals, contaminants can also make their way into the circulating air. If the building has no real ventilation, those chemicals can accumulate. Building materials, such as paint and carpeting, also can release volatile organic compounds into the air.

What Can I Do to Combat Sick Building Syndrome?

If you feel these symptoms while in an environment that you can control, such as your own home, you can take action. Have a trusted professional check your home’s ventilation to ensure contaminants are not building up in your indoor space. You can also have your indoor air quality tested to see if that is the problem. To keep your indoor air healthy, consider using natural cleaning products that are low odor. Allowing some UV light inside during the day can also give you a bit of a boost. Finally, adding a few live plants will keep your space lighter and help you clean up your air.

If you feel the symptoms while at work or school, your options may be a bit more limited. Discuss the problem with the school or the employer to see what your options are. In the meantime, ensure you do your part by not blocking air vents, taking care of any office plants and removing your garbage promptly.

Staying Healthy

While sick building syndrome is usually temporary, it can reduce your productivity and make it difficult in general to get through your day. By understanding the symptoms that you’re suffering, you may be able to mitigate the potential causes or come up with a solution that will help you feel better.

 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Are You At Risk?

Friday, December 4th, 2015

When you have the house all closed up for the winter, worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning may be the last thing on your mind especially with the upcoming winter festivities. However, if you are constantly using your gas appliances or fireplace, you should be aware of the dangers of CO poisoning and how to protect yourself and your family.

What is Carbon Monoxide and Why is it Poisonous?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a gas that is produced when fuels in cars, fireplaces, stoves and other appliances are burned. Because the gas is colorless and odorless, it can accumulate in a room or a home without anyone knowing. Without a CO detector, you may not realize that CO levels have become dangerous until it is too late.

Normally, the oxygen you breathe in with every breath binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. When you breathe in CO and oxygen, however, the CO has a much easier time binding to the hemoglobin than oxygen. As the CO levels increase, the amount of oxygen your body receives decreases. This could eventually lead to hypoxia, or oxygen starvation. If those affected do not receive medical attention, they could suffer brain damage or even die.

52 Carbon monoxide

What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

At first, the symptoms are similar to the flu. A person suffering from CO poisoning may experience nausea, vomiting, anxiety and even depression. The person may feel extremely tired and may feel like falling asleep. As the levels become more concentrated, the symptoms can include severe headaches, dizziness and extreme confusion. Low level exposure over a long period of time can potentially lead to damage to internal organs while high levels can become fatal within several minutes.

While every person is at risk for CO poisoning, infants, young children and the elderly are most likely to be affected first. Those who also have anemia, heart disease and breathing difficulties are also more at risk. These individuals are also more likely to be negatively affected by low levels of CO even when other adults may not suffer any symptoms.

 

Protecting Yourself Against Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One of the best ways to protect yourself against CO poisoning is to ensure that you have a working CO alarm. Some of the alarms will alert you when the levels become elevated while other alarms will actually tell you how much CO is present in the air you are breathing. It is recommended that you install alarms in rooms where CO is likely to be found, including rooms that have gas appliances and fireplaces. If you store your vehicle in your garage, installing a CO alarm there can also be helpful.

 

What To Do When CO Levels Become Elevated

If our CO alarm goes off, do not ignore the alarm even if you do not have any of the symptoms. These alarms are designed to go off before you begin to feel ill, so you should act with caution. Silence the alarm and then make sure all of your family members are out of the home or building. You may also wish to open windows to ventilate the area. Turn off any appliances that could be causing the elevated CO levels. If it is possible, you may want to stay elsewhere until a professional can be called to fix the problem.

 

Stay Safe This Winter

Keeping yourself and your family safe with a CO alarm and an understanding of the symptoms will help you ensure that you’ll have a happy, healthy winter. You can even potentially prevent a tragedy during one of your most favorite times of the year.

Furnace Efficiency

Friday, November 20th, 2015

During the cold winter months, your furnace works hard to heat the air and send it throughout your home. Some of this heat is lost as the heated air travels through the ducts to its destination while some is lost through the chimney. While your furnace may still be providing enough heat to keep you comfortable, you are still paying for the heat that is lost. If you have an older or inefficient furnace, your energy bill may be high, making you more hesitant to run the heat.
Furnace Efficiency Ratings

A furnace’s efficiency standard is AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. This standard is used to show consumers how efficient the furnace is at converting energy to heat over one year. AFUE is shown as a ratio of the output of heat that directly heats the home or business over the energy that is used.

As an example, a furnace that has an AFUE of 95 percent means that 95% of the energy the furnace uses goes towards directly heating the home or business. The remaining 5% is vented to the outdoors. In general, newer furnaces are more likely to have a higher AFUE than older furnaces.

AFUE Chart 95web2
Some high AFUE furnaces may also have an ENERGY STAR label, a symbol that is awarded to certain products by the Environmental Protection Agency. This label indicates that the furnace has been proven through verified testing to save the home or business owner money while reducing the amount of green house gases that are produced. Although furnaces with an ENERGY STAR label may have a higher upfront expense, consumers will recover the cost of their investment through energy savings.

Why Furnace Efficiency Matters

The number one reason you may want to upgrade to a new, more energy efficient furnace is to save money. Because newer furnaces use more of their energy to actually heat the home or business, the furnace does not have to work as hard or as long to make your living or working space comfortable.

Efficient furnaces have an environmental benefit in addition to a cost benefit. If every home and business replaced their outdated furnaces with highly efficient heating equipment, the EPA estimates that the annual amount of greenhouse gasses emitted in the United States would be equivalent to taking 177,000 cars off the roads.

Should I Retrofit or Replace My Furnace?

Older furnaces can be upgraded to become more efficient. However, this process can be costly; homeowners or building owners should weigh the cost of a retrofit with the cost of a furnace replacement. If you choose to retrofit your furnace, you will most likely have a vent or flue damper installed to close off the chimney when the furnace is not running.

If your furnace is older than 10 years, it is likely that it has an AFUE in the range of 56 to 70 percent. That mean up to 44% of your fuel is directly released through the chimney as wasted energy. Because some new models have AFUE ratings between 90 to 98 percent, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to bite the bullet and install a new furnace. Over time, the energy savings provided by a new furnace will allow you to recover your investment.

Choose an Efficient furnace

Ultimately, replacing your old furnace has financial and environmental benefits. When you’re looking to replace your furnace, we can discuss your to make sure that you’re getting the right furnace that works for your home or business. When you are choosing your new furnace, be sure to check the AFUE before making a commitment.

 

Improving Your Home to Reduce Heating Costs this Winter

Friday, October 9th, 2015

During the summer, you can open the windows or turn on the fans to save on cooling bills. When it comes to winter, the heater is often the only way to stay warm. However, this can cause your wallet to take a hit when you get your next energy bill. While keeping your thermostat lower can keep your bill a bit lower, there are improvements that you can make to your home to save even more.

Deal with the Drafts

Drafts around the door, the windows and elsewhere can lead to a loss of heated air. In most cases, the weatherstripping that prevents cold air from getting in needs to be replaced. You can find rolls of weatherstripping at your local hardware store that will work. Professionals recommend taking a piece of the old weatherstripping with you when you go so that you get the right replacement materials.

Replacing the weatherstripping is very easy. Doors and windows have small slots where the weatherstripping goes. The old weatherstripping should easily peel away from the door or window. The new weatherstripping can then be placed in the slot.

Check the Insulation

Ensuring that the attic is properly insulated is one of the best things you can do for your home when it comes to saving money on your energy bills. Insulation prevents cold air from getting into the attic and warm air from getting out. This can be extremely helpful if your duct work is in your attic. Having the right amount of insulation in the attic will also provide you with benefits all year round and even a longer lasting roof.

Air Seal the Attic

While you may not realize it, you’re likely trying to heat the attic when you turn your thermostat up. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 30 percent of the energy it takes to heat the home is lost due to leaks in the attic. This is because the attic is often not sealed; hot air can travel through cracks in the light fixtures, wiring holes or the duct chaseway. Although a professional is more likely to be able to find all of the leaks, you’ll see savings just by plugging the big holes.

There are several materials that can be used to air seal the attic. Smaller cracks and holes can be sealed using a high quality caulk. Aluminum-faced acrylic tape and other housewares tape can be used to seal around drywall and other hard products. Rigid foam panels can be used to seal the attic hatch and the soffits.

Seal Your Ducts

Sealing the duct work can result in some heating savings. When the ducts leak, it is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of heated air is lost. This often means that you’re spending money trying to heat the environment. By sealing the ducts, you can cut back on how often the heater is running.

Home Improvements can be Beneficial All Year Long

Although these home improvements do require a small investment, you’ll find that this is an investment worth making. Not only will you save on your heating bills this summer, you’ll find that these savings extend into the spring and summer.

 

Preparing Your HVAC Systems for the Fall

Friday, August 28th, 2015

If you are like most people, you have been relying on your air conditioning to keep you cool for the hot summer. With fall just around the corner, however, it may be time to start thinking about preparing your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems for the winter months. After a long summer, your air conditioner needs to be ready for a season of disuse.

 

Importance of Fall MaintenanceFall Leaf

Just like any piece of home equipment, your HVAC systems require regular maintenance to keep them running efficiently and effectively. There are many reasons to make sure that your AC and heating system are properly serviced for next year.

  • Keeps your system running efficiently: Even if you have not been regularly servicing your HVAC systems, there are several things that you can do to keep your AC and heating system running smoothly. For example, maintaining the condenser, or the part of the unit that sits outside, is incredibly easy and will guarantee that your unit is running at its maximum efficiency. However, there are portions of your AC and heater that you cannot access, so it is recommended that a professional visually inspects your unit before the next summer season starts.
  • Regular tune-ups make your HVAC systems trustworthy: By keeping your HVAC units properly serviced, you can count on your systems to work for you when you need them most.
  • Regular maintenance protects your investment in your home: HVAC systems are incredibly expensive and can cost upwards of $10,000 or even more if your system needs to be replaced, depending on who you buy from. By having your systems properly serviced, they’ll last far longer.
  • Makes your home more efficient: When your unit is running at maximum capacity, not only is it saving you money, but it is also consuming less energy.

 

Preparing Your HVAC Systems for Fall

 

While it is hard to believe that summer is almost over and the cold weather is just around the corner, now is the time to prepare your HVAC systems. By performing this maintenance early, you’ll be ready to take on that first cold night, no matter when it hits.

  • Check the filters: While your heater and air conditioning unit are in use, the filters should be changed or cleaned monthly depending upon the type of filter your systems use. If you did not change the filter before you last used your furnace, it is recommended to switch it out and start out the fall and winter seasons with a fresh one.
  • Clear the side vent: If you have a high efficiency furnace, you will have a side vent leading to the outside of your home. This should be located about three feet or so above the foundation line of your home. Make sure the area around your vent is clear to keep the air moving freely.
  • Inspect the area around your furnace: Before turning your furnace on, it is a good idea to ensure that the area around your furnace is clear. This will help keep your furnace from becoming overheated. In addition, this can be used as an opportunity to ensure that there are no flammables located anywhere near your furnace, as these materials can pose serious safety risks.
  • Yearly inspection: One of the most important things that you can do to keep your HVAC systems running smoothly is to call your trusted HVAC inspector before each heating and cooling season begins. While these inspections will help care for the parts of your systems that you do not have access to, the professional can also notify you and fix any potential problems before they cause permanent damage.

Your HVAC systems are a huge financial investment. By properly maintaining your systems and keeping them running smoothly, you’ll ensure that your systems have a long life ahead of them.

 

Restoring HVAC Systems After a Flood

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Since installing a new HVAC system can be expensive, many homeowners and business owners who experienced a flood may wish to do what they can to save their existing system. Luckily, HVAC systems can be washed and repaired after a flood has occurred.

Before th5. Housee Cleaning Begins

Before the cleaning process begins, there are some steps that should be taken in order to keep everyone involved in the process safe. First, those who are doing the cleaning should be equipped with respirators that have HEPA filters installed. Additionally, if the cleaning space is not properly ventilated, it may be recommended for the cleaners to use chemical cartridges that protect against disinfectants.

Second, the space should be closed off using plastic sheeting or other forms of temporary walls to protect those who are not working on the HVAC systems. If the contamination is severe, contractors may use blowers with HEPA filters installed to keep the work area under negative pressure.

Cleaning HVAC Systems

The first step is to remove the insulation from around the components of the HVAC system and the filter. The cleanup crew may use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter attached to remove contaminants, dirt and debris from the components. The cleanup crew will need to pay special attention to the horizontal sections of the duct system and vents. A power washer may be used if the vacuum did not remove all of the debris.

Once the loose debris has been removed, a disinfectant solution, such as chlorine bleach mixed with water, will be used to disinfect the areas that were affected by the flood. The components will then be washed down with water. When all of the components have dried, any vents or fans that were removed for cleaning can be re-installed.

When to Discard Components

Fibrous components, such as insulation and filters, will be removed and discarded. Any other components that were affected by flood water and could not be appropriately cleaned will also be removed and discarded. This includes components that may have eroded or rusted due to water contact. If these components are not removed, the HVAC systems will continue to circulate contaminated air and may not work efficiently.

Running HVAC Systems after Cleaning

It is recommended that the building owner run the system normally for up to 72 hours before the building becomes reoccupied to allow air to cycle through the system. If the smell of mold or mildew persists, the system may require additional cleaning and repairs.

Once the building reopens or the residents return, the HVAC systems should be checked weekly for any remaining contaminants and to ensure the system is working properly. During the first few inspections, the filters should be replaced in order to remove any remaining airborne contaminants or mold spores.

Preparing Your Central AC for the Cooling Season Part 1

Friday, April 17th, 2015

After sitting unused through the winter months, your air conditioning unit will need a thorough cleaning to make it run efficiently. It is highly recommended that your unit receive an annual checkup from your local HVAC professional, as only they can check the coolant levels and electrical components. For the most efficient service, call before the cooling season begins.

Otherwise, a thorough cleaning of your basic air conditioning components will guarantee that your unit will be running at full efficiency at the beginning of the cooling season. Continuing basic maintenance throughout the season will help to keep your unit working properly through the heat of the summer while keeping your energy bills low.

Before beginning any cleaning on your unit, make sure that the power to the air conditioner has been turned off.

Air Conditioner Basics: Components

Outdoor air conditioner units are comprised an evaporator and a condenser. The condenser is located outside the home while the evaporator sits above the furnace inside.

The condenser contains a fan, which pulls air into the unit. The air passes through cooling fins and reduces the temperature of a special coolant, which is then pushed by the compressor into the evaporator. Once inside the evaporator, the coolant chills the tubes. Warm air is pulled through the house and into the evaporator by the blower, where it is cooled by the chilled tubes. Condensation is drained out of the evaporator through a tube, which connects to a floor drain.

General Cleaning and Maintenance of the Condenser:

Trane AC Cutaway

As a quick reminder, the power to the air conditioning unit should always be turned off before you begin any routine maintenance or cleaning.

Since the condenser fan pulls outdoor air through the cooling fins, the unit often becomes clogged with dust, dirt and other organic debris. This causes your unit to work less efficiently by blocking the air flow. Thus, the grille and cooling fins are the main focus when servicing your condenser.

  • Clear the area of any leaf litter and debris surrounding the condenser. Make sure to pull any twigs, leaves and grass clippings from the grille. Using a soft brush attachment, vacuum up any dust, seeds and pollen from the exterior cooling fins. In some newer models, the cooling fins are housed behind a metal box, which will need to be unscrewed and removed to reach the fins.
  • The cooling fins are fragile and bend easily. If you notice any bent fins, a fin comb can be used to straighten them. Fin combs can be found at any store that sells appliance parts.
  •  Unscrew the fan in order to vacuum any debris that may have found its way into the interior of the condenser. The fan will still be attached to the condenser by a number of wires, so you may need to recruit an extra set of hands to hold the fan while you clean the interior.
  •  Hose down the cooling fins. Always make sure to direct the spray from the inside out so that none of the electrical components get wet.
  •  If you have an older model, check for lubrication ports on the fan motor. Add a few drops of electric motor oil to the ports. If the bearings are sealed, no lubrication is required. Replace the fan.

Next post: General Cleaning and Maintenance of the Evaporator Coil and Cleaning or Replacing the Filter

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Friday, March 6th, 2015

As families prepare to bundle up, close the windows and turn up the heat, a potential danger is preparing to make headlines once again as the onset of winter continues to close in. This danger, carbon monoxide, has the potential to be found in every home, especially in those who neglect appliances that can be used to heat the residence. To keep your family warm, safe and healthy this winter, take the time to educate yourself about the potential risks of carbon monoxide. It could just save your life.

26. skull & cross bones
What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is often considered to be a “silent killer.” This is because the presence of carbon monoxide cannot be detected by smell or taste.

CO is incredibly dangerous to both humans and animals due to the body’s red blood cells. These cells, whose main job is to carry oxygen throughout the body, find it easier to pick up and carry CO. If the levels of CO are high enough, the CO molecules may replace the oxygen molecules in the body. This can potentially destroy the body’s tissues and ultimately result in death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 400 people die and more than 20,000 individuals end up in the emergency room as a result of CO poisoning.

There are a number of symptoms that may alert to CO poisoning. For example, someone who is suffering may:

  • Feel nauseous and may vomit
  • Suffer from a headache or chest pain
  • Act confused
  • Lose consciousness

While everyone can die as a result of high CO levels, those who use more oxygen are at a higher risk for CO poisoning. For example, unborn infants and children take in oxygen at a faster rate, making them more susceptible to damage caused by high levels of CO. Further, elderly individuals and those who suffer from heart or respiratory problems are also more susceptible to CO poisoning.

Because CO is undetectable and because the symptoms mimic other illnesses, CO poisoning is difficult to diagnose unless CO poisoning is suspected. In extreme cases, people who go to sleep after beginning to feel ill or are already asleep can die.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

CO is generated when fossil fuels do not correctly burn. Thus, any item in the home that uses fossil fuels to function can produce this dangerous gas.

  • Furnaces or other heating appliances that do not work correctly
  • Portable generators
  • Water heaters
  • Clothes dryers
  • Wood or coal stoves
  • Chimneys that have not been properly cleaned and maintained

One of the biggest dangers for CO poisoning are when cars are left running in a garage. While many are tempted to run the family vehicle for a short amount of time in order to warm it up, especially during cold weather, the CO emissions produced from burning gasoline can be incredibly dangerous. Running the car in a garage, even with the garage door open, can result in fatal levels of CO.

Protecting Against Potential CO Poisoning

Along with your smoke alarms, CO alarms should also be installed and regularly maintained. It is highly recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission that a CO detector be installed near sleeping areas within the home at the very least. However, you can provide your family with extra protection by installing one on each level of the home, including the basement. It is important to remember that CO detectors do not replace regular smoke alarms.

Further, all appliances that can potentially release CO should receive regular maintenance. If an appliance does not appear to be functioning correctly, it should be looked at by an expert immediately.

What to do if CO Poisoning is Suspected

If anyone suddenly begins to show symptoms of CO poisoning, especially if they are more susceptible, the fire department or emergency services should be called immediately. Even if it turns out to be a false alarm, it is better to be safe than sorry.

If your CO detector sounds the alarm or you believe that there is a presence of CO in your home, it is highly recommended that everyone move to an area that has plenty of fresh air. This can be achieved by either opening the windows or leaving the residence altogether. Once everyone is safe and accounted for, the fire department or other emergency services should be contacted immediately.

 

 

Winter Fire Hazards

Friday, December 26th, 2014

32.0smog-clipart-house-fireWith the cold weather finally here, all you may wish is to keep your home nice and toasty. While fire hazards may be the last thing on your mind, it is important to be aware that most home fires occur between December and March. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 905 people die each year in winter fires.

 

Cooking

In more recent years, cooking has become a major fire hazard. Many families have turned to deep-fryers and other appliances to cook their holiday means, often leaving them unattended. In fact, unattended ranges, ovens and turkey fryers used for the making of holiday meals accounted for 67 percent of all winter cooking fires.

Furnace Heating

Many people rely on a furnace to keep their homes warm and cozy. However, because they often run constantly to keep the temperature consistent, they can be a serious fire hazard if they were not properly maintained.

Proper maintenance by qualified specialists will reduce any potential fire hazard from the furnace. Additionally, homeowners can further reduce fire risks by ensuring that the emergency shutoffs and all of the controls are working. Finally, they can also ensure that there is no trash or flammable items near the furnace or the vents.

Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

With heating prices being so high, many homeowners are looking for other ways to warm up their abode. Fireplaces and wood stoves are often popular alternatives. To reduce the risk of a winter fire, homeowners should ensure that the fireplace or stove is properly installed in an area that has adequate clearance away from furniture or anything that could potentially catch fire. Chimneys should always be inspected and cleaned prior to being used, especially if there has been some time between uses.

Kerosene Heaters

Kerosene heaters can be hazardous if the homeowner does not know how to use them. Because kerosene heaters can emit deadly fumes, they should only be used in areas that are well ventilated. No other fuel source should ever be used. Additionally, it is recommended that homeowners refuel the furnace outdoors and only refuel while the heater was turned off.

Christmas Trees

One of the biggest risks that you may not be aware of are Christmas trees. While the trees themselves are not dangerous, the lights give off quite a bit of heat when left on for certain periods of time. Frayed wires and plugs can start fires, especially if the family is using a live Christmas tree or if there are flammable objects nearby. Unattended Christmas trees should never be left with the lights on.

Reducing the Risk of Fire

There are many ways that you can reduce the risk of causing a winter fire at home. One of the most important and easiest ways to avoid a fire hazard is to never use ranges, stoves and other similar appliances for heating. Additionally, family members should follow the instructions when utilizing space heaters and other appropriate heating appliances.

Families can also prepare for a fire by ensuring that all smoke detectors are working and by keeping any fire hydrants clear of snow and other debris. This way, if a fire does occur, it can be dealt with safely and quickly by firefighters and other appropriately trained professionals.