As it starts to get cooler, your furnace becomes one of the most important appliances in your home. With their ability to turn fuel into heat, furnaces make sure that your house stays warm and comfortable. However, these powerful devices can cause some problems if they’re not operated correctly. To protect your house and your loved ones, make sure you always follow these furnace safety tips.

Never Leave Flammable Items Near Your Furnace

Though a furnace that’s functioning properly is not a fire hazard, there is a chance that a damaged or broken furnace could overheat and cause problems. Just in case this happens, you should make sure that there are never any flammable items left anywhere near the furnace.

Clean your furnace every month to get rid of dust bunnies and avoid any DIY projects that would let sawdust pile up in the area. If you have old rags, cardboard, magazines, old newspapers, or wood scraps you need to store somewhere, don’t leave them by the furnace. It’s also important to keep paint thinners, gasoline, oil, or other flammable liquids far away. This ensures that an issue like a cracked heat exchanger just mildly inconveniences you instead of starting a major fire.

Install and Regularly Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

One of the biggest things homeowners can do to protect themselves is install carbon monoxide detectors. Since furnaces are combustion devices, they produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct of generating heat. Breathing these toxic fumes can make people feel ill, and concentrated levels of carbon monoxide are deadly.

To ensure that a broken ventilation system doesn’t lead to problems, make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. They provide a backup safety system in case something goes wrong with the vents that are supposed to safely remove carbon monoxide from your home. Having a carbon monoxide detector by your furnace is certainly helpful, but keep in mind that this gas moves in unexpected ways. You should also have one in the room you sleep in no matter how far away it is from your furnace.

Once your detectors are installed, make sure to maintain them properly. At least once a month, test each detector to make sure its alarm is still working. If you choose battery-operated detectors, change the batteries every six months. Most detectors last around seven years, so make sure to replace them once they reach the end of their lifespan.

Keep Children and Pets Away From the Furnace

Furnaces have a lot of insulation, so they aren’t actively hot to the touch. However, certain parts of the furnace, such as the furnace grill, can get fairly warm. To avoid unpleasant accidents, it’s best to keep children and pets away from the furnace. If possible, your furnace should be closed off from the rest of the house. You can also try using gates or fences to keep children and pets away from the furnace.

Replace Your Furnace Filter Regularly

Your furnace filters are an important part of keeping your furnace fully operational. When a filter gets too dirty, your furnace struggles to pull in enough air. This causes it to work harder, which can lead to damaged furnace components. Some people who neglect to replace their filters can end up with electrical issues, smoke, or other dangers.

If you want to avoid these issues, follow your furnace filter schedule carefully. Typically, furnace filters need to be changed every 90 days. However, the amount of time between filter changes will depend on your furnace and your filter type. Thicker filters often have a longer lifespan. Meanwhile, having a lot of pets or people in the home can lead to more airborne debris and require you to change filters more frequently. Consult with your HVAC technician to find the right furnace filter replacement schedule for your home.

Never Place Items on Your Furnace

Since furnaces are often in laundry rooms or storage closets, it’s easy to end up overcrowding them. However, no matter how tight on space your home is, you should never put items on your furnace. This includes stacking objects on top of the furnace or hanging damp laundry over it. Using your furnace as a storage rack can lead to a broad range of issues. In some cases, it can be a fire hazard just like leaving paper or gas near a furnace. In other situations, putting items on your furnace can impede airflow and keep it from functioning properly. You may also run into problems if you store heavy items that damage or disconnect various components on your furnace.

Only Let Licensed Professionals Work On It

Since furnaces often require gas connections or electrical work, dealing with them isn’t a task for casual DIYers. Many furnace accidents happen after a person tries to repair or install a furnace by themselves. If a person makes a mistake while working on a furnace, they risk carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and fires. Therefore, it’s best to leave this to professionals who fully understand how furnaces work.

Hiring a licensed HVAC technician also ensures that your furnace follows all local building and safety codes. Professionals have plenty of training in how to keep clients safe, so they don’t forget even little details like clearance zones or exhaust vent sizes. Thanks to their expertise, you can ensure that your furnace works properly and passes all permit inspections.

Improve Airflow to Your Furnace

To function properly, your furnace needs clear, unobstructed airways. This allows it to both pull in fresh air and expel smoke and other byproducts. Check around your furnace until you find the air intake and the exhaust pipes. Usually, these are located outside the home, and you can identify them by the rush of air near them. Make sure all of these vents don’t get clogged. Clear away vegetation that grows near them and don’t obstruct them by parking cars or leaning lawn furniture right next to them. This gives your furnace the airflow it needs to produce heat for your home.

Always Schedule Regular Maintenance

Proper maintenance is an essential part of staying safe. During furnace maintenance, your technician will thoroughly clean the machine, so you don’t have to worry about any buildup inside the furnace clogging vents or catching on fire. The cleaning step of maintenance can also help to improve air quality and keep your heated air smelling fresh and clean.

Your maintenance technician also carefully checks the furnace for potential problems. They spot little issues and recommend repairs right away, so you can avoid major damage. In addition to preventing major furnace disasters, preventative maintenance also increases your furnace lifespan. By promptly addressing potential issues, you keep your furnace operating efficiently for years to come.

Comfort Bros Heating, Air & Plumbing is here to help El Cajon residents keep their furnaces running properly. We can assist you with regular maintenance and provide more tips for saving on fuel costs. Our team also provides a variety of other HVAC services including AC repairs, duct cleaning, and heater installations. Call or email Comfort Bros Heating, Air & Plumbing today for more information.

Meet the Author
Nicholas Gildark
Nicholas Gildark

Nicholas Gildark is a San Diego native who comes from a tight knit family and enjoys spending time with them. Nicholas is engaged to his beautiful fiance Allison Velasquez. The two of them recently purchased a home.
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