The furnace room may go for months without being occupied. It can be easy to forget how to safely work around your furnace. And your heating system is not guaranteed to start up flawlessly after months of inactivity. We recommend routine professional maintenance to avoid problems. But these furnace safety tips will help when shutting off your heater this year, and when turning it up again next season.
Improve Furnace Room Ventilation
Fuel-powered furnaces burn natural gas, oil, or propane. Poor ventilation can cause harmful fumes to back up into your home, including carbon monoxide. Electric furnaces need to be ventilated as well. To further improve furnace safety, make sure vent pipes are unobstructed, don’t close too many vents, and avoid blocking air intakes or vents with boxes, suitcases, or other items
Do Not Store Flammable Items Near the Furnace
Avoid storing flammable materials, especially those with low flash points, in the furnace room. These include gasoline, paint, paint thinners, scrap wood, paper, or sawdust. Kitty litter poses another problem; it can release ammonia fumes that can corrode the heat exchanger as well as help circulate toxoplasmosis particles in the air. It may be tempting to use the furnace closet as storage space, but finding room in your attic, garage, or other area is far safer.
Don’t Block Air Flow
Blocked air flow can reduce efficiency, cause uneven heating, and lead to furnace safety issues. It can cause the furnace to consume oxygen inside your home. Also, it can strain the unit and increase heating costs. Remove any obstructions from around vents and registers and don’t hang laundry around the equipment. Dust, lint, and debris in the furnace area can be a fire hazard and affect air quality, so be sure to clean and vacuum the furnace room from time to time.
Install Adequate Lighting
Dim lighting and burnt-out bulbs can make your furnace room a dangerous place. Good lighting improves furnace safety, as it ensures you can navigate the room, inspect the unit, and quickly address an emergency. Always keep a flashlight in the furnace room, just in case, and replace any broken bulbs immediately.
Keep Children Out of the Furnace Room
Naturally curious and playful, children may not know how dangerous it is to play around a furnace. Explain to them the risks of getting too close to it, such as getting burned by hot parts. Establish rules for avoiding the furnace area and not leaving toys nearby. When they’re old enough, discuss furnace safety tips with your children.
Install/Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms
Properly installed and tested carbon monoxide and smoke detectors help improve furnace safety. Replace the batteries at least once a year. And test the alarms occasionally—especially at the start of winter. Detectors should be installed on every floor and also in the furnace room, so you’ll get an instant warning if something goes wrong.
Schedule Routine Maintenancence
Annual furnace inspections and tune-ups in the fall help improve furnace safety, reliability, and efficiency. You also want to replace the filter every 1 to 2 months. Inspect the pilot light if you have a natural gas furnace; it should be blue, but if it’s orange or yellow, have a professional come clean the system or make the necessary adjustments. Also, look for rust and listen for rattling, popping, and other unusual noises when in the furnace room. Call a professional if these are present.
Contact Village Plumbing and Air
Our Village Partner Plan ensures you get the furnace maintenance you need, for just one low annual fee. Members also save on all our heating and plumbing services. Customers in the Houston area depend on us to address any issue in their furnace room and perform high-quality repairs, no matter the scope of the problem. To schedule your furnace appointment today, request service online or call 713-526-1491.