Caring for your furnace is relatively simple. While there are four types of natural gas furnaces (central gravity models, central forced-air models, floor models, and wall models), you can use the following furnace safety tips on all of them.
Maintaining your furnace ensures that it won’t catch fire. The last thing anyone wants is a house fire, which can stem from a furnace that is not properly cared for. After not being used for a few months, it may not be the first thing on your mind, but you should follow safety guidelines before you decide to turn it on.
Furnace safety tips
1. Vacuuming to manage dust build-up in your home, and your furnace
It is recommended that you vacuum inside and around your furnace and the registers at least once a month. This ensures that dust, pet hair, and lint does not build up and catch fire.
While you are vacuuming, you should check your furnace’s flame to make sure that it’s blue. If your flame is orange or yellow, you will need to call a professional for cleaning or adjustment.
2. Set furnace safety ground rules
For those with families, this is an essential tip. Never let your children play near the furnace, and be sure to explain furnace dangers, how the grill gets hot, and how the furnace can catch fire.
You should also sit down and make sure everyone in the household knows what to do in an emergency and where the gas shutoff valve is located in case of a gas leak.
3. Keep the air flowing and moving
For your furnace to work correctly, it needs proper airflow. To ensure that your furnace is getting enough air, make sure that your heat vents are open, clean, and free from obstructions.
If your furnace is not getting the proper amount of air it needs, it will not work properly, which can lead to overheating, a risk of fire, or carbon monoxide leaks in your home, all of which are unsafe for you and your family.
4. Schedule regular inspections
Before winter, schedule your annual HVAC maintenance and cleaning. A certified technician can make sure your furnace is not having any operational problems, clean it properly, and check for cracks in the combustion chambers. This is important as cracks allow carbon monoxide to leak into your home. Keeping up with your inspections not only guarantees safety but also helps with potential breakdowns.
5. Avoid flammable objects
Never store anything flammable around your furnace. Chemicals and heat do not mix as they are highly combustible. Some materials to keep away from your furnace include:
- Paint and paint thinners
- Wood scraps
- Old rags
- Kitty litter
While some of these materials may be obvious, not everyone considers the fact that anything stored too close to a furnace can catch fire.
6. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly
A carbon monoxide leak is dangerous and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly. If the unfortunate happens, and your furnace begins to let out carbon monoxide, you want to make sure your detector works. Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
You will want to do the same with your smoke detectors. Change their batteries at least once a year and test that they are working properly.
7. Get familiar with components to the furnace
You don’t have to be a professional technician to learn about your furnace. Every furnace comes with a manual that will show you its numerous parts. Identifying these parts can help you clean it, determine what may be wrong with it, and explain to a professional what seems to be acting up. It may even help you understand what a technician is doing while maintaining or fixing your furnace.
8. Consider safety features like a thermocouple
A thermocouple can be mounted right in the flame of a pilot light and act as a safety device. The little metal rod will detect if your pilot light is lit or not.
When your pilot light is on, your gas line will remain open, but your gas line will close if it goes out. By doing this, the thermocouple prevents the furnace from receiving gas, preventing gas leaks, carbon monoxide leaks, and explosions.
9. Pay attention to unknown noises or smells
If you don’t use your furnace for a few months, when you turn it on, it may emit a dusty smell, which is normal, as long as it passes in a day or two. Even a musty odor can be expected and mean your air filter needs to be cleaned.
Smells to be concerned about are gas, which could signal a leak. An electrical burning odor is also a concern. If these occur, it is best to call a professional.
It is also typical to hear noises coming from your furnace. Noises like booms, chirps, crackling, pings, rattles, and hums are not usually a cause for concern. However, clunks, screeching, whining, and vibrating should not be ignored and may need an expert.
10. Contact a professional if you think there’s an issue
If you are unsure of how to maintain and care for your furnace properly, it is always best to reach out for help. When something doesn’t make sense to you, or you are concerned that your furnace is not running correctly or leaking fumes, don’t hesitate to get it checked. It is always best to be safe rather than risk a fire, accident, and your family’s health.
Homeowner policies to protect against the unexpected
With a better understanding of maintaining your furnace and how dangerous it can be if unchecked, you may want to look into purchasing or updating your homeowners policy. Even when you take all the proper steps and furnace safety precautions, accidents do happen, and if they do, you want to make sure your home and belongings are covered.
At Frost and Remer, we understand that accidents happen, and we can help you decide what type of protection coverage you need. Schedule a virtual appointment with us for a free full risk assessment and to learn more about our policies, bundles, and discounts.