Gas furnaces—they’re the most common type of heating system found in homes around the country. They’re powerful and reliable. And, like any appliance that burns natural gas, they can also be potentially dangerous.
We’re not trying to be alarmist. Gas furnaces aren’t inherently risky appliances to have in a home, no more so than a gas stove or oven. But they do require some caution and several safety steps to help keep them operating safely.
You probably know several of the important gas furnace safety preventive measures already. Now that we’re deep into the fall, it’s a good time to get you up to speed with the best practices for a safe and warm winter.
Schedule professional maintenance for your furnace.
This is the essential step and the one that goes the farthest in keeping your furnace from creating hazards. Regular professional furnace maintenance takes care of many important jobs: preventing repair issues and sudden breakdowns, stopping a decline in energy efficiency, and keeping the warranty valid.
Perhaps the most important job is ensuring the safest operation. During maintenance, our technicians give a furnace a thorough inspection to find any concerns that may need to be addressed before the furnace gets to work. We recommend scheduling your furnace maintenance as soon as you can.
Keep the area around the furnace clear.
Furnaces are usually located in areas such as basements where homeowners like to store items. You need to keep the area around your furnace clear of these objects so they won’t ignite from heat or a stray spark. We recommend giving the furnace a clear one-foot zone. Be especially careful with storing highly flammable objects such as paper or cans of fuel and paint thinner anywhere near the furnace.
Check your carbon monoxide detectors.
Any home that uses natural gas in any capacity must have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors installed at key positions. CO leaks are dangerous because this combustion byproduct is colorless, odorless, and tasteless—it takes special detectors to alert you in time. Before you turn on your furnace for the first time in the season, go to each detector and press its “test” button. You may need to replace batteries or even have the detectors repaired.
Know the location of the furnace shut-off switch.
Your gas furnace has its own dedicated breaker switch located near its cabinet. This is where you shut the furnace down for the season, and it’s also the switch to use if there’s an emergency with the furnace. Make sure you and other people in your household know where it’s located.
Never run the furnace with a malfunction.
You may notice that your furnace is acting strangely: making odd sounds, having trouble starting up, and shutting off too early. Don’t ignore these warnings and keep running the furnace just because it’s still giving you heat. Any malfunction with a furnace has the potential to become a major safety hazard. Shut the furnace off and call us for heating repairs in Minneapolis, MN right away.
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