Some homeowners get scared to do anything related to their furnace cause they think it’s going to blow up. Let us tell you that furnace explosions are highly, highly unlikely. But your furnace going out because you haven’t maintained or serviced it can definitely happen. But knowing how to inspect and fix your furnace requires some very important furnace safety tips first.
Our furnace safety guide is vital to new and veteran homeowners alike. We’ll go through some safety tips, including:
- how to smell a gas leak
- how to change your furnace air filter often
- when to schedule a furnace tune-up
- where to store flammable materials
Before we get started with our furnace safety tips, let’s talk about common signs your furnace is failing and how to fix them.
Signs Your Furnace Needs Repair
If your furnace is over 15 years old, it might be time for a replacement. But sometimes, all your furnace needs is a good repair.
Some common signs you should call a professional for furnace repair include:
- the pilot light keeps going out
- there are strange noises coming from the unit
- the furnace doesn’t produce enough heat
- the furnace produces too much heat
- the furnace doesn’t cycle on and off
- the furnace doesn’t constantly cycle or cycles are too short
You can try to fix some of these issues on your own. But we recommend calling a professional for anything beyond changing the air filter or relighting the pilot light. Now that we’ve gone over some signs, it’s time for repair. But before you call a contractor to repair your furnace, there are also a few critical safety tips you must know, especially before attempting any troubleshooting on your own.
9 Common Furnace Safety Tips
In order to keep your home and family safe as well as your furnace running efficiently, make sure you apply these basic safety and maintenance measures.
1) Schedule Regular Inspections
Getting your furnace inspected and tuned up annually is vital to ensure it works properly and keeps your family safe from carbon monoxide leaks. An inspection might include cleaning, lubricating, or tightening up the equipment and connections to ensure a tight fit. A thorough inspection might reveal some much-needed repairs as well, which a regular tune-up can also catch.
At Aquarius Home Services, our multi-point inspection and tune-up include:
- Checking that the thermostat is operational and changing the batteries if necessary
- Checking for gas leaks
- Checking the inlet and outlet gas pressure and readings
- Checking the flame sensor and the ignitor
- Test AMP draw on the inducer motor, which moves air through your HVAC system
- Visually inspect the burner assembly
- Camera inspection of the heat exchanger
- Run a combustion test
- Clean the condensation trap and drain lines
- Inspect the furnace filter and change it if needed
- Check blower motor capacitor
- Check for proper airflow and venting
- Inspect the blower assembly wheel
- Check the circuit board for any burn marks and test the voltage
- Perform a static pressure test on the ductwork
- Visually inspect all of the electrical components and connections
2) Keep the Area Clean and Free of Dust and Debris
It’s important to keep the area around your furnace clean and free of any debris, including leaves, twigs, paper, and dirt. These objects can block vents and cause problems with airflow. Not to mention, a build-up of debris could be a fire hazard. Even dust can be flammable if it’s thick enough or gets kicked up and makes its way into the furnace openings.
3) Keep Flammables Away From Your Furnace
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often this rule is broken. Be sure to keep any and all flammable materials at least three feet away from your furnace, water heater, and other appliances that produce heat or flames. This includes things like gasoline, paint thinners, propane tanks, cleaning chemicals, and more. And if you must store flammable materials in your home, be sure to keep them in a safe, well-ventilated area away from any heat sources.
4) Regularly Change the Air Filter
To improve airflow and efficiency, regularly change your furnace filter. A clean filter will help the furnace run more efficiently and can also improve air quality in your home. This is a very DIY-friendly and simple way to upkeep your furnace every year on your own. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize they need to regularly change the air filters in their homes.
5) Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Furnaces burn fuel, and any device that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. A properly functioning furnace or other fuel-burning appliance will pump out toxic gasses like carbon monoxide outside of your home, keeping you safe. But a leak in the furnace can cause carbon monoxide to escape into your home, which is very dangerous.
Installing a carbon monoxide detector next to your furnace and also at the top of your basement stairs or somewhere in your home closest to the furnace will alert you and your family ASAP of a leak so you can evacuate to safety. Just like the smoke alarms in your home, be sure to check the batteries for these every year.
6) Install a Surge Protector
While this isn’t necessarily a safety tip, it’s still important to mention. When the power goes out in your home, a power surge can damage appliances, including modern HVAC equipment that utilizes circuit boards and computers to function. A surge protector will help to protect the sensitive electronic components in your furnace from power surges, which could cause major damage and very expensive repairs.
7) Pay Attention to Recurrent Pilot Light Issues
If you have a gas furnace, there’s a small flame that burns constantly to ignite the larger burner when the furnace kicks on. If this pilot light starts flickering or going out frequently, it could be an indication of poor ventilation and could be very dangerous. Be sure to contact a professional ASAP if you’re having recurrent issues with your pilot light.
8) Keep Furnace Registers Open
A furnace register is basically the grills or vents in your home that allow the airflow from your HVAC system. You can open and close these at any given time to lessen the amount of heat or air conditioning flowing out, but it’s important not to close them all at once. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to keep at least 80% of your furnace registers open to prevent heat build-up and inefficiencies in the system.
9) Teach Kids to Stay Away From the Furnace
This is probably the most important safety tip on this list. Be sure to teach your kids to stay away from the furnace, and don’t allow them to play near it or in the area where it’s located. If they see something they’re curious about, make sure they know to come ask you before touching anything. The last thing you want is for your little one to get too close and accidentally burn themselves.
Following these simple furnace safety tips will help you avoid any accidents or problems in your home this winter. Be sure to stay safe and warm! And if you have any questions about your furnace or HVAC system, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.
What to Do When Your Furnace Is on the Fritz
If you find yourself in need of furnace repair this winter, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the issue before calling a professional.
- First, check to make sure that your furnace is receiving power. If it’s not, reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse if necessary.
- Next, take a look at your thermostat and be sure that it’s set to “heat” mode. If it is, check to see if the temperature is set correctly.
- Finally, take a look at your furnace filter and replace it if necessary.
But when the time comes to get the furnace repairs or tune-up you need, reach out to Aquarius Home Services. We will send a licensed professional out to your home ASAP to inspect, diagnose, and fix any issues with your furnace, so you are winter-ready. Easily schedule your furnace tune-up online here!