If you have a gas furnace, you enjoy the benefits of a warm home with lower energy costs than other common heating mediums. When properly maintained and in good repair, a gas furnace is perfectly safe for your home and family. However, you should consider the following guidelines for safety to prevent any accidents or damage to your home and your health.
One of the main dangers associated with any type of fossil fuel heating is carbon monoxide. Gas naturally produces carbon monoxide when it burns. A properly installed furnace should be vented to the outside to carry the vapor away from your home. However, carbon monoxide leaks can still occur, and they are dangerous because the gas is both colorless and odorless -- you can become poisoned without even knowing it.
Leaks typically happen if your venting is not working properly of if the heat exchanger in your furnace is faulty. These can both be easily prevented by having your furnace cleaned and inspected once a year by a furnace repair professional, such as Kohl Heating & Air Conditioning. Sometimes, carbon monoxide leaks can also occur if you are negligent in changing out the air filters on your furnace. With too much debris, the heat exchanger can become overworked. If it is placed under stress too long, the exchanger can break open, spilling carbon monoxide into your home.
Another precaution you should take seriously is making sure your CO alarms are working. This way, if there is a leak, you can get your family to safety while a repairman comes to fix your furnace.
Furnace fires are rare, but they can occur, especially if you are careless in your organization. Your utility closet should not serve double duty as a storage area for boxes, bags, newspapers, cleaning products, clothing, or any other even mildly flammable material. The floor around your furnace should be kept clear. Combustible chemicals also have no place in your furnace room. Paint thinners and similarly volatile products should be stored elsewhere -- preferably out of the home entirely. Remember to install a smoke detector very close to your furnace room to catch fires early.
Prepare For Emergencies
Your furnace only sees use during the coldest months of the year, and many homeowners find themselves in a precarious situation with no alternative heat sources when the furnace unexpectedly dies or when disaster cuts off the fuel supply. You should have basic supplies on hand at all times for basic furnace repairs and at least one back up heat source. Consider
- a space heater that relies on electricity. If the power goes out, you can still run the heater on a back-up generator.
- keeping a few battery powered flashlights handy. If you are experiencing a power outage, you'll still need to see inside your utility closet to check on your furnace.
- writing down phone numbers for servicemen, insurance, or home warranty companies. If you are not able to access online accounts, you can at least still call for help.
If you are very concerned about emergency preparedness, you can also talk to a local HVAC company about the possibility of installing a dual-fuel furnace. Some furnaces are built to burn wood, with gas as a back-up fuel. These furnaces are typically very efficient and they can be lifesavers in emergencies when public services shut down. As long as you have wood on hand, you'll be able to at stay somewhat warm until the gas supply is restored.
Gas furnaces are typically quite safe and reliable, but accidents can happen. Be proactive and prepared, and you'll stay warm and safe. For more questions about furnace safety and repair, contact a local HVAC company in your area.