Modern, efficient furnaces are very good at keeping our homes and businesses safe and warm. Like any fuel-burning appliance, however, if furnaces don’t operate properly, they can create safety hazards. To keep homes and businesses safe this winter and all year long, we recommend following these furnace safety tips:
- Schedule an annual tune-up. A tune-up ensures your furnace is running safely by checking for potential issues, such as a cracked heat exchanger or frayed electrical wires.
- Test carbon monoxide detectors. A carbon monoxide leak is one of the biggest safety threats posed by a malfunctioning furnace. That’s why it’s important to test all of your carbon monoxide detectors. While you’re at it, install fresh batteries in each device.
- Test smoke alarms. Some furnace issues can lead to fire hazards, so be sure to check your smoke alarms. As with your CO detectors, test all the smoke alarms in your home or business and install a fresh pair of batteries in each unit.
- Clear the area near your furnace. You can help minimize the chance of fire hazards from your furnace by keeping the area around your furnace clear. You should avoid storing anything within three feet of your furnace. This is especially true for flammable products or materials.
- Change your air filter when dirty. A dirty air filter will restrict airflow to your furnace, which will overwork your system and can potentially increase the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. In addition, a dirty filter will allow dirt to build up on your furnace’s components, which can cause many efficiency, performance and safety issues. That’s why it’s important to check and/or change your filter once a month this winter.
- Don’t close too many registers. Do not close off more than 20% of the registers in your house. This can cause high resistance and unnecessary heat buildup in the furnace.
- Burner flames should be blue. The furnace burner flames should be blue, sharp and steady. A yellow flame indicates dirt in the burner. If that’s the case, call a licensed HVAC contractor to address the issue
Remember this important safety information: If your CO detector alarm is triggered, leave your home or business immediately and then call 911. Should you smell the rotten-egg odor of natural gas, immediately seek a location where you no longer detect the odor, call 911 and then DTE Energy at 800.947.5000. Stay warm. Be safe.