When the holidays approach, you might be more focused on making your home merry and bright than you are about the intricacies of home maintenance. However, overlooking something as crucial as your HVAC system is a recipe for disaster. Here are three HVAC safety tips you should remember this holiday season and how they could help you to prevent problems.
1. Don't Hide Gifts in Your Utility Closet
You want those carefully curated holiday gifts to come as complete surprises to your kids, which is why you might be tempted to store things in uncommonly used rooms, such as your utility closet. Although those small, enclosed rooms filled with machinery might seem like the perfect place to stash a few gifts, they also have important clearance requirements to prevent problems like home fires.
For instance, most furnaces need anywhere from 0-36 inches of space on all sides from anything that could be considered combustible, since heat from the internal components could set paper, insulation, or even clothing ablaze. Water heaters also have specific clearance requirements, since some versions have gas heaters and vent work that can become warm during the course of the day.
To keep your gifts, home, and family safe from fire, never store presents, gift wrap, tissue paper, or anything else that may be flammable within the confines of your utility closet. Additionally, keep potentially combustible cleaning supplies, brooms, and mops outside of the clearance requirements for your furnace and air handler. Check with your HVAC manufacturers to learn more about clearance to prevent problems.
2. Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Although carbon monoxide poisonings may seem like an unlikely occurrence, they happen more often than most homeowners suspect. In fact, between 2010 and 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,244 people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S. alone. To make matters even scarier, 36% of these deaths happened during the winter months of December, January, and February, when furnace and space heater use is in full effect.
Because carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that can be produced by any type of combustion appliance, you must install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and check them before winter.
To make sure your CO2 detectors are operating properly, press the TEST button on your detector until it makes a loud beep. This simple noise helps you to know that your CO2 detector is drawing power and is operating properly. After you install your CO2 detectors, date the physical unit with a permanent marker, and replace the entire device every 5-7 years.
If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, do not assume the system is malfunctioning. Take alerts seriously, and open windows and doors to ventilate your home. Call 911 to have your home inspected for a CO2 leak, and don't reenter your place until it is deemed safe.
3. Have Your Furnace Inspected
One of the most effective and simplest ways to prevent HVAC dangers this holiday season is by scheduling a professional furnace inspection. During these routine service calls, HVAC professionals check your system for everything from dirty ignition chambers and cracks in the unit manifold to frayed wires that could spark electrical fires.
In addition to repairing components that could create dangers, professionals can also ensure that your furnace is operating properly, which could help you to prevent dangerous system outages on frigid winter days. To stay on the safe side, experts recommend having your furnace inspected annually, before you start using your heater.
Make your holiday season a little merrier by tackling home maintenance head-on. With help from our team here at Briarwood Heating and Cooling, you can ensure that your home stays warm, comfortable, and safe all season long. To learn more about our free estimates and flexible financing, give us a call today.