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5 home furnace safety tips for the winter

Nov 14, 2018 08:30AM ● By Editor

From healthsafety.com - November 14, 2018


Natural gas furnaces have become one of the most energy efficient ways to heat homes during fall and winter months. Some of the newer models have an annual fuel-utilization-efficiency of 97 percent. This is mostly because natural gas is one of the cleanest of all fossil fuels. Energy efficiency is ideal for environmentally conscious consumers and frugal homeowners alike, but regular maintenance and safety precautions should be followed in order to keep families safe and happy with their natural gas furnaces.

There are four types of natural gas furnaces: floor models, wall models, central gravity models, and central forced-air models. The following safety guidelines can be applied to any type of natural gas furnace, excluding space heaters.

1. Regularly vacuum the furnace and the area surrounding the furnace. This prevents lint build-up, which creates a fire hazard. For detailed instructions on how to clean the inside compartment of your furnace, refer to the manufacturer's instructions or call a professional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) specialist.

2. Teach children to stay away from the grill of the gas furnace, which gets very hot. Proper furnace safety can prevent family members from getting accidentally burned by the unit. Children are also less likely to leave items near the furnace if they are not allowed to play in the area.

3. Keep flammables away from the furnace and any heat registers in the home. Items like rugs, Christmas trees, blankets and furniture should not block airflow. Lightweight objects, like newspapers, can easily can attracted to the unit, block the air intake, and create a fire hazard. Because furnaces often draw air from the indoors, the unit can pick up small particles like lint, pet hair and dust from the air to aggravate allergy suffers. Like small particles, the furnace can also pick up fumes from harmful chemicals left near the furnace and distribute the dangerous air throughout the house. Proper furnace safety can protect your family from accidentally inhaling dangerous fumes. 

4. If the unit has a filter, inspect or change it monthly. Proper furnace safety can improve the efficiency of your appliance and reduce the amount of energy required to operate the unit. Be certain to properly close the panel door of the furnace when changing the filter. This decreases the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning. Newer models have safety switches to prevent the units from functioning with the door open. Homeowners are also encouraged to install carbon monoxide detectors to prevent such an accident. 

5. Remember that unvented space heaters are not intended to heat an entire home. Relying on these appliances solely can greatly increase the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Special precautions and maintenance is required be lessen the chance of an accident while these units are in use. Be certain to follow the manufacturer's instructions to keep family and property safe while using these appliances.

Understanding the dos and don’ts with your furnace room are the best ways to insure your family's safety during the winter months. Gas furnaces are widely used throughout the country and rarely cause severe injury or death. Safety precautions, however, should be followed.