Heating Safety Tips: Staying Safe & Warm this Winter

As the temperatures continue to drop, it’s important to make sure your heating system is running safely and efficiently. In Sacramento, where winter can bring chilly nights and occasional storms, keeping your home warm is a top priority.

However, it’s equally important to be mindful of potential hazards that come with using heating systems. In this article, we’ll discuss some essential safety tips that will help you stay warm and cozy without putting yourself or your family at risk. So let’s dive in.

Keep Flammables Away from Your Heating System

Keep flammable materials such as cardboard, gasoline, wood scraps, old rags, paper products, sawdust, and paint or paint thinners at least three feet away from your heating system. Maintain a three-foot “child-free zone” around open flames and portable heaters. Keep fireplace switches, matchboxes, and remote controls beyond the reach of kids.

Never Use Your Oven to Heat Your Home

An unattended gas oven can emit carbon monoxide, increasing the risk of CO poisoning. Also, ovens are designed to heat food, not heat living spaces, and can use substantially more energy to heat a room.
Plug Heating Equipment Directly into Wall Outlets

Do not use extension cords or power strips for heaters or other large appliances. Do not plug other devices into the same circuit as your heating equipment or it may overheat and start a house fire.

Vacuum Your Furnace After Summer

Heating systems sit idle during the summer and can accumulate lint, dust, and debris. Before winter arrives, clean and vacuum your furnace to remove any flammable debris. Cleaning your unit before the heating season is a great way to reduce the risk of a house fire, prevent heating system problems, and maintain the efficiency of the system. Vacuum your furnace/heater regularly to keep it clean.

Install Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

A fire can spread at an alarmingly fast rate. A smoke detector senses small particles in the air to detect fires. If a fire starts, your smoke detector can alert you immediately, so you and your family can get to safety and call 911. You cannot install smoke alarms and forget them and should test them regularly to ensure they’re working properly. If your smoke detector has a backup battery, replace it annually.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Heating systems in Sacramento produce carbon monoxide. CO is an odorless and colorless gas. If inhaled in large quantities, CO can quickly reduce the amount of oxygen to be transported to vital organs such as the heart and brain, causing dizziness, confusion, and even death. When using a fuel heater, open a door or window at least an inch. Before turning on a fireplace, check the vents and flue to see if they are functioning properly.

A water heater requires adequate space for the pilot assembly to burn properly. Restricting airflow can lead to a fire. Ensure proper ventilation to keep combustible gases away from your water heater.

Maintain Your Heating System

Whether you use a heat pump, furnace, space heater, or a chimney, have a professional inspect and maintain it once a year-preferably before winter arrives. The aim of professional maintenance is to address heating problems before they snowball into major issues and prevent potential problems. With their trained eyes, professionals can identify the subtle signs of furnace and heater problems that amateurs often miss.

What’s included in professional heating system maintenance?

During a furnace tune-up, your contractor checks and adjusts fan belt tension, tests electrical connections, lubricates motor bearings and other moving parts, cleans the burner, and checks the heat exchanger to make sure it is working properly.

Never use a Heating Equipment With a Damaged Cord

Over time, the cords of your heating device can become damaged and the wires inside them can be exposed, increasing your risk of electrocution. Exposed wires can also cause a short circuit that can start a house fire. Never operate your heater/furnace if it has a frayed cord. Do not touch the compromised cord or attempt to cover it with PVC tape, as this is not a long-term fix. Instead, reach out to a professional for help.

Never Leave a Heater Unattended

Curious toddlers and pets often mistake heating system cords and plugs for toys. If you use a heater to heat your living spaces. Never leave it unattended, especially if you have pets or kids as they can accidentally knock over your heater, starting a house fire.

Do not Bring an Outdoor Heater Inside Your Home

Outdoor heaters produce significantly more carbon monoxide than indoor units, and are hence, unsuitable for enclosed areas. If you bring an outdoor heater indoors, carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels.

Do not Leave Your Heater on Overnight

They say it’s better safe than sorry. Even if you have a heater that can be left on during the night, remember to switch it off before bedtime. If you leave your heater on overnight, carbon monoxide can quickly build up and you may experience chest pain, headaches, and breathing problems. High CO levels can even lead to sleep death.

Clean Your Filters

A dirty furnace filter can cause a fire in your ducts or furnace. If a furnace filter becomes so obstructed that air can’t flow through it, the filter might get pulled into the vent, posing a fire hazard. Make cleaning or changing your filters every month a top priority. Depending on your furnace usage, whether you have pets, and if someone in your household has a seasonal allergy, your filters may need to be replaced more frequently.

What to do if you smell gas? If you have a gas furnace and you smell gas, turn off the system immediately, get out of your home, and call an expert. Never try to repair a malfunctioning gas furnace yourself.

Whether you are planning to have a new heating system installed or an existing one maintained, South Placer Heating and Air has got you covered. Our professionals have years of experience managing complex installation projects. To learn more, call 916-246-2089.