Your In-Depth Guide to Furnace Safety
Although furnaces are equipped with protection features, you need to follow several operation rules to ensure your safety. Most people know to not set anything on top of the furnace, but did you know that a litter box shouldn’t be set up near the system either? There are a lot of other important safety rules, too, such as maintaining sufficient clearance around the furnace, changing the air filter every month, monitoring the vent pipe and scheduling annual maintenance.
Don’t Put Anything Within 3 Feet of the Furnace
You need to maintain a clearance of at least 3 feet around the furnace. We say the more the better to avoid objects being shifted closer to the furnace. A furnace needs room to breathe to prevent overheating and fires. Another reason for maintaining 3 feet of clearance is to give heating repair technicians enough space to work on the appliance and remove it when the time comes for replacement.
Don’t Put the Cat’s Litter Box Near the Furnace
Ammonia from your cat’s urine can affect the heat exchanger inside your furnace. When the heat exchanger cracks, it leaks carbon monoxide into your home. Dirt from the litter box can also find its way into the furnace where it obstructs airflow and presents a fire hazard as gunk builds up inside the furnace. The furnace may also circulate bad smells throughout your home when the litter box is in the same room. Your home’s indoor air quality could suffer as a result of the litter dust getting inside the system. Thus, you should set up your cat’s litter box in a different area of the home. Furthermore, avoid emptying it anywhere near the furnace.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide is a dangerous odorless and colorless gas that could leak when something breaks in the furnace. It’s rare for this to happen, but you want to be alerted if it does. Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and easy to use. Some smoke detectors double as carbon monoxide detectors so you don’t need to install two different safety devices.
Regularly Check the Carbon Monoxide Detector
It’s not enough to just have a carbon monoxide detector installed. You need to test it monthly to make sure it’s working correctly. If the model has removable batteries, then the batteries need to be changed every six months.
Change the Air Filter Every Month
Your furnace’s air filter is an inexpensive yet critical component. It filters out contaminants to protect your indoor air quality. When the air filter becomes clogged, it hurts your indoor air quality, presents a fire risk and obstructs airflow. Clogged air filters increase the wear and tear on your furnace, decreasing its lifespan and increasing the chance of problems.
Some furnaces have filters that need to be cleaned rather than changed. Check your manufacturer’s manual to learn more about your filter specifications. If you have a preference for filter type, keep this in mind when it comes time for a furnace replacement. Some people like saving time by replacing the filter whereas others don’t want to buy new ones.
Don’t Ignore a Safety Shutoff
You need to contact a furnace repair company if your furnace shuts off for safety. Don’t try to turn on the furnace again because it might not be safe. C & C Heating & Air Conditioning offers 24/7 emergency heating repair service in Roseville, MI, if you ever find yourself in this situation.
The average furnace has two or three types of safety switches to keep your home safe: a limit switch, a roll-out switch, and a pilot sensor. Limit switches are designed to prevent overheating of the heat exchanger. The roll-out switch prevents flames from extending beyond the burners. Most furnaces don’t have a pilot light anymore, but for those that do, a pilot sensor prevents gas from being emitted into your home if the pilot light is out.
Schedule Preventive Furnace Maintenance on an Annual Basis
Safety mechanisms can break or become damaged, which is part of why HVAC companies recommend scheduling furnace maintenance in the fall. An HVAC technician your furnace’s safety controls are working correctly before you turn it on for the cold season. You’ll enjoy peace of mind throughout fall and winter knowing that your furnace passed an inspection. In addition, furnace maintenance helps to prevent breakdowns, to extend the system’s lifespan, to protect your indoor air quality, and to improve efficiency.
Don’t Store Flammable or Combustible Liquids Near the Furnace
Cleaners, paints, adhesives, solvents, and polishes are examples of flammable and combustible liquids. They catch on fire easily, so you shouldn’t store or use them near the furnace. Flammable liquid fires create toxic black smoke and spread fast. The vapors these liquids emit into the air can burn, so it’s not just a spill that makes them a hazard.
Keep an Eye Out for Problems With the Vent Pipe
Take a look at your vent pipe regularly to make sure it’s still in good condition. You need to contact a furnace repair company if it is deteriorating, has loosened joints, or has some sort of obstruction like a bird’s nest. Vent pipes divert harmful gases outside of your home, which is why it’s so important you notice when something is wrong with them.
Clean the Vents Every Month
This improves your air quality by reducing how much dust gets circulated throughout your home. Vent cleaning also lowers the risk of fires. Before you begin, turn off the power to your heating system. Then, unscrew the grilles and scrub them with a cleaning brush. If they’re extremely dirty, you might have to wash them with soap and water. Use a high-powered vacuum to clean the crevices of your vents. You can vacuum some of the dust from the inner parts.
Schedule Furnace Service If the Front Cover Has Become Loose
Never operate your furnace with the front panel missing or loosened. This is a fire hazard. Many of today’s new furnaces have a safety interlock feature that won’t let the furnace turn on if the panel isn’t completely closed. Check if your furnace model has this feature.
Never Attempt Furnace Repairs on Your Own
Although there are plenty of projects you can DIY around the house, furnace repair isn’t one of them. Furnaces have gas and electrical components that you don’t want to mess with. Furthermore, each furnace model is different. You need a licensed furnace repair technician to safely and accurately diagnose and repair your system.
Keep at Least 80% of Your Vents Open
You should never have more than 20% of the vents closed in your home because having too many vents closed causes the furnace to overheat. A closed vent increases pressure buildup inside the heating system. It also hinders proper heat exchange. Heat will enter the home at a slower rate, resulting in the furnace needing to run longer and the heat exchanger getting hotter. An overheated heat exchanger is at risk of cracking.
C & C Heating & Air Conditioning has built a team of professionals to deliver exceptional indoor comfort services in Roseville, MI. Aside from heating and cooling services, we handle duct cleaning and indoor air quality testing. Contact us to schedule furnace maintenance, repair, or any other HVAC service.