During cold winter nights we rely on our heating system more than usual. It is not surprising that nearly all home fires caused by the heating equipment are in the winter months of December, January, and February. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2009 and 2013, “heating equipment was involved in an estimated 56,000 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 470 civilian deaths, 1,490 civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage. In addition to home fire injuries and deaths, heating systems can also cause gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, water leaks, electrical shocks, and more. We would like to outline the dangers associated with your heating system so you can be as safe as possible.
Luckily, heating-related fires can be prevented if action is taken on time. You should have a yearly maintenance plan for your heating system. Precautions to take would be to keep flammable articles a least 3 feet from the system, that includes…
- Electric stove heaters
- Portable Space heaters
Winter Fire Safety Tips
Winter time is holiday time – and that means lots of cooking, lots of entertaining, and unfortunately, lots of opportunities for home fires to occur. To date for 2017, there have been 73 fire-related deaths in Ohio. Last year, there was a total of 110 fire-related deaths. So check out this list of precautions and if you need to make changes in your home do so as soon as possible.
- Overloaded outlets
- Misuse of extension cords
- Not turning off lights before going to bed or leaving your home
- Discard old or worn holiday lights
- Old or worn out appliances and electrical cords
- Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every 30 days.
- Replace all smoke and CO detectors at least every 10 years or as instructed by the manufacturer.
- Have your fireplace and chimney inspected once a year. Use a mesh screen or glass cover for fires. Wait until ashes are cool before removing them. Discard in a metal container and place the container outside, far away from the home and garage.
- Never leave candles or space heaters unattended. Turn off space heaters before going to bed.
- Always plug space heaters directly into an outlet, never an extension cord.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Generators, furnaces, wood stoves, and any other combustion-related process is capable of producing harmful gases like carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can cause health problems like breathing difficulties—problems associated with the nervous system and even death in severe cases Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the leading cause of poison-related death in the United States and is responsible for approximately 450 deaths and 20,000 nonfatal injuries every year. Poisoning occurs when CO—an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas—escapes from fuel-burning appliances and becomes trapped in enclosed spaces. Poisonings from CO are often caused by faulty furnaces, by improperly operating portable generators, or by using other fuel-burning devices indoors. CO poisoning is also in many ways predictable and preventable. As trusted sources of public health and safety information, state and local government agencies can be instrumental in warning the public about the dangers of CO poisoning and in educating them about taking these simple precautions: Installing battery-operated CO detectors in the home; Having gas- and oil-burning appliances regularly inspected and maintained; and Keeping portable generators more than 20 feet from the home. Generator, fireplace, and heating system maintenance should be conducted in the fall of every year for preventing buildup of this colorless and odorless gas. Even wood stoves, barbecues, and space heaters can be dangerous.
Radiant Heating Can Cause Leaks and Burns
Radiant heating systems provide even heat that warms people and objects as the heat rises from the floor. Radiant systems use a device — such as tubing, electric coils or radiators — that heats up, then transfers that heat to the room. Furnaces, hot water and steam (hydronic systems) are the most common heating systems in the United States. The heating system should be kept running and in good condition in the winter months. If the heating system is not used for a long time the water pipes can break and the water can escape from the pipes. Hot water furnaces can leak water and cause damage to your home. If you notice any water around your furnace, woodwork, or ceilings, contact an HVAC professional right way to assess the situation. Radiators can also cause permanent burns and in extreme cases, death. For instance, if the radiator valve is damaged or missing, hot water and steam can burst into a room and cause severe injuries. Consider covering your radiators with insulation to prevent burns when someone touches it. Also, don’t forget to periodically drain your boiler. Water impurities and acidity can damage your boiler system, leading to water leaks, “steam hammers,” and hydronic system failure.
Shocks and Electrical Hazards
The best plan to follow when it comes to the electrical wiring and control systems of your furnace is , it is best to leave it to a professional HVAC technician. Your furnace is hooked up to electrical wiring and control systems that connect to your thermostat and other numerous parts. If for any reason other than flipping a switch or breaker you want to conduct any kind of maintenance yourself be sure and turn off power to the system from the breaker box.
Although natural gas and propane are odorless, gas companies add mercaptan to give these gases their characteristic sulfur-like smell. If you detect this smell, your furnace could be leaking. If you smell rotten eggs and/or suspect a gas leak, evacuate the home as soon as possible and call your gas company or 911. When gas leaks are ignored, it can easily lead to an explosion or fire.Even the simple flip of a light switch can cause ignition. Natural gas is still the most common heating fuel in the United States. A gas-powered furnace that is not maintained can cause efficiency and safety problems.Natural gas and carbon monoxide are harmful gases which can cause severe health problems to the user. Be aware of gas leak smells and check your carbon monoxide detectors every 30 days to make sure they are working properly.
Heating System Prevention & Maintenance
You wouldn’t drive your car 100,000 miles without changing the oil. The same logic holds true for your home comfort system. Regular HVAC preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation and peak performance. Pre-season maintenance is also important. It can help to avoid a system failure in severe hot or cold weather when you need it most, and it can also keep your energy bill from getting out of control.
Improper installation and use of heating systems can cause various problems to the user. The key is early detection of the faults. In case of an accident the user should ask for help. With proper maintenance and care problems can be prevented. Having the heating system inspected by trained personnel can prevent any accidents. Here are a few maintenance chores you can attend to..
- Clean or replace furnace filter
- Open up all vents and registers and make sure they are unobstructed
- Calibrate and program thermostat
- Be mindful of your furnace sound
Teegarden HVAC is here to help you Heat and Cool your home or office efficiently as possible!
Contact us (859-635-1658) for a Consultation!
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