HVAC Precautions For The Winter Season

Winter is the time for bundling up and getting cozy in the warmth of your home. Besides utilizing your fireplace (if you have one), many homeowners rely on their furnaces throughout the season–even in Southern California! That’s why we always suggest having your heating system inspected by your local HVAC professional before or at the beginning of winter.

However, no matter what heating source you plan on using this winter season– gas furnace, radiator, fireplace, or space heater–there are some important safety measures any homeowner ought to remember when heating your home. Did you know that heating systems are the 2nd leading cause of residential fires according to the United States Fire Administration? In order to keep your home and family safe this winter season when you’re using your heating system the most, the Conejo Valley Home Services team has some tips and hacks to prevent any fire hazards.

Winter Furnace Safety

Quick Tips

Don’t have time to read the full article. Here is a quick, useful guide for winter fire safety when it comes to your HVAC system and heating equipment!

  • Remember to maintain a 3-feet circle of space around any heat source in your home. Besides safety, keeping these areas clear can provide easy-access for changing filters and routine maintenance for your HVAC system.
  • For families, be sure to clearly designate “kid-free zones” around heat sources as well. Although obvious for fireplaces, this is an important rule for space heaters as well, since they can get just as hot and cause serious burns.
  • Do not ever use your oven to heat your home–it is too much of a fire risk!
  • Don’t forget to always turn portable heating equipment off when you leave a room or go to sleep at night.
  • When using a portable space heater that runs on fuel, double-check to ensure the correct fuel.
  • If you don’t already have one, invest in a safety screen for the front of your fireplace.
  • No matter the time of year (but especially in winter), check your smoke alarms at least once a month to ensure they are in working order.
  • Contact your local HVAC professionals to schedule an inspection and yearly maintenance before the cold weather fully arrives.
  • If applicable, hire a professional to clean out your chimney and ensure a safe fireplace throughout the wintertime.

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Make HVAC Safety + Compliance A Priority This Winter

Preparing and safeguarding your heating system and devices for winter may seem a little daunting for the average homeowner. That’s why we’ve included additional details about the specific measures you can take to promote fire safety throughout your home.

Clear The Area Around Your Furnace

During the winter, you not only want your furnace to be working at its best so it can efficiently heat your home, but you also want to prevent any fire hazards. That’s why it’s important to keep the area surrounding your furnace free of any clutter. More often than not, our HVAC technicians will encounter furnaces that are blocked by a homeowner’s belongings. Not only does this present the danger of fire, but it also hampers your furnace’s ability to heat your home and overall energy efficiency.

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Twice

Although Christmas has already passed, it never hurts to check a list twice–especially when it comes to safety risks within your home. One of the biggest dangers a furnace can havoc is a carbon monoxide leak. Be sure to replace the batteries and make sure these detectors are working all year round, but especially in winter when you’re using your furnace the most.

Test Your Smoke Alarms

Similarly, in the event that your furnace overheats or anything within or without a heat source go awry and starts to burn, it’s crucial that your smoke detectors catch it early. When preparing for the winter season, don’t forget to check and replace the batteries in all of your home’s smoke alarms. Additionally, it may be helpful to replace or upgrade your smoke alarms completely if you have older models. These devices will typically last 5 to 7 years. Contact the distributor of your smoke alarm or a local HVAC professional if you are unsure how old yours are.

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Schedule Annual Maintenance

As mentioned earlier, having your heating system undergo annual maintenance provided by an HVAC professional is the best way to keep your home’s energy sources efficient and safe. Although there are many DIY guides and resources available online these days, it’s important to consult the services and expertise of a licensed and certified HVAC technician. This will not only ensure that your heating system is in proper order, but it also adds the promise of compliance when it comes to jurisdiction and safety.

Check Your Venting

Many times, homeowners can spot irregularities with their heating system early on. This winter, keep an eye out for discoloration on your walls near or surrounding any vents. This is usually a visible sign of excess heat, which means there’s a problem within your heating system and increased fire hazard for your home. If you see changes in color or even abnormal peeling of paint or scorching around your vents, be sure to contact your local HVAC professional. Lucky for you, Conejo Valley Home Services offers 24/7 Emergency Repair to address serious issues like this immediately and eliminate fire risks!

Don’t Do It Yourself

Although mentioned earlier, it is worth reiterating that the vast majority of furnace repair and maintenance require the attention of a specialized technician to ensure maximum heating and safety for your home. Also, many newer, modern furnaces utilize electronic ignition systems that can carry considerable voltage and cause injury to inexperienced homeowners who try to tinker with them. Attempting to fix your own furnace without proper training or guidance is not only unsafe, but it can also potentially result in additional damage to delicate components that will turn a minor issue into a major repair job and expense.

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Winter Fire Safety Recap

By now, you know the basics and then some of promoting fire safety for your heating system and home for the winter season. Here are some of the key takeaways homeowners should remember every year.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, or portable space heaters.
  • Remember to implement and communicate a three-foot radius “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Avoid using your oven to heat your kitchen or home on cold days and nights.
  • Always hire a qualified professional to install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • In preparation for winter (especially in colder climates) be sure to have your heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for space heaters that burn specific fuels.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month and double-check your carbon monoxide detectors, too.

Do you have any additional questions about getting your heating system ready for colder winter temperatures? Be sure to contact our knowledgeable staff with any direct inquiries or set up an HVAC inspection here.