When is the WORST time for your furnace system to go out? Those in our area would probably agree – during a winter storm. While you can’t guarantee that you won’t lose heat due to an electrical outage, you can take steps to make sure your furnace is operating at peak performance levels. Read on for our 7 winter furnace safety tips to keep it running smoothly through the storm.
1. Change your air filters and clean your vents.
When the cold winds blow, you’ll want maximum circulation of warm indoor air with minimum strain on your furnace. Change or clean your air filters – you should be doing it every 3 months for optimum performance and air quality, anyway. Then put the hose attachment on your vacuum to work and clean your vents. Don’t forget the ones that may be located high on your walls!
2. Get your furnace tuned up.
If you somehow missed your annual furnace tune-up and inspection this year, contact your HVAC professional ASAP to see if he can squeeze you in before the big snow hits. Not only will this ensure that your furnace is ready to take on the storm, you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that you’re not in danger from carbon monoxide leaks.
3. Top off your tanks.
If you have an oil tank, make sure that you have enough oil to last. Delivery trucks may not be able to make a delivery during a storm, and they may become backed up for deliveries. As a rule, it’s best to not let your oil tank drop below ¼ tank. The oil at the bottom of the tank contains the most sludge, which will put a strain on your furnace.
If you keep a portable generator for backup (see Tip #6), make sure you have enough fresh fuel to weather the storm, too.
4. Keep the cold air outside.
Don’t make your furnace run harder than it should. Inspect your windows and around your doors for gaps. Any gap wider than the width of a nickel should be sealed with caulk. If you lose a significant amount of heat around your windows, consider covering them with an inexpensive insulating kit.
5. Keep your home’s exhaust pipes clear of snow and ice.
Allowing snow or ice to block the exhaust vents on your furnace will increase wear and tear on your furnace and cause it to stall – either from insufficient oxygen or its built-in safety mechanism – leaving you in the cold. In addition, it could trap the carbon monoxide that’s vented from the furnace and cause it to build up in your home. Familiarize yourself with the location of your furnace’s and air intake vents are located before the storm hits. And when the storm hits, make sure you clear it quickly and frequently, before the snow potentially turns into ice.
6. Use a generator with care.
A portable generator can be a great back-up plan for keeping your house warm if your electrical service go out. But if it’s hooked up or used improperly, it can be as dangerous as it is helpful.
First, always read the manual that comes with your generator before using it. “Winging it,” in this case, could have deadly consequences.
Don’t wire your portable generator directly into your home’s wiring, and don’t plug it into an electrical outlet in your home or garage. Doing this can “back feed” power into the electric system, which could injure or kill utility workers trying to restore power lines.
Instead, have a licensed electrician install a generator transfer switch. A transfer switch is an electrical device that is installed next to your electrical panel in your home. It safely connects the generator to the circuits in your electrical panel that you wish to power during an electrical outage.
Also, never run a portable generator indoors – that includes your garage, too. Generators produce carbon monoxide, which could build up in your house. Run your generator outside only, and place it where the exhaust fumes cannot enter the home through air intakes, vents, windows or other sources.
7. Make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are in good working order.
If you haven’t done so recently, replace the batteries and test them out.
And don’t forget to get the bread and milk!
Make an Appointment
In need of furnace service or an inspection? We’ll help you keep it running smoothly all winter long. If you’re in Adrian, southeast Michigan, or northwest Ohio, contact Blissfield Heating and Plumbing or give us a call at (517) 486-3575. Contact us today!
8593 E US Hwy 223
Blissfield, MI 49228
Phone: (517) 486-3575