According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires have been the second leading cause of home fires, and nearly half of all home heating fires occurred in the upcoming months of December, January, and February.
As the colder temperatures begin to set in, reliance on heating equipment increases – and so should safety awareness. Here are some preventative measures you can take to ensure safe heating this winter.
Take steps to make sure your motor doesn’t overheat
There’s no doubt about it there’s an increased risk of fire when your furnace is not regularly maintained.
- One of the most important things to maintain is a clean air filter. If it gets too dirty, air flow gets restricted. This not only causes your furnace to work less efficiently, but it can eventually cause the motor to overheat.
- Another cause of overheating is the dirt which can collect around the motor and act as (the wrong kind) of insulation.
- Faulty parts or bad wiring can cause too high voltage or tight bearings.
- Tight or worn motor bearings can catch heat when dry and eventually catch fire – so bearings need to be regularly lubricated.
Be mindful of flammable materials
Things like gasoline, paper, clothing, drapery, or dried leaves should not be kept near a heating system. Leave at least 3 feet between combustible materials and your furnace or any type of heating equipment.
Don’t handle space heaters carelessly
A few years ago, FEMA reported that heating appliances like space heaters were the second highest cause of residential fires. It’s important to handle them according to manufacturers’ safety guidelines. These include:
- Not using an extension cord to power your space heater
- Keeping flammable objects at a safe distance
- Turning off all area heating devices before leaving your house or going to bed for the evening
Keep your flues clean
Not only do you need to keep your chimney flue clean of creosote (which is flammable), but soot buildup in your furnace flue due to improper ventilation can cause furnace flame rollouts where flames actually escape and roll out of a closed combustion area. Restricted oxygen is a major cause of this buildup, and this can be caused by clogged air filters or obstructions like a bird’s nest or yard debris blocking your outside vent.
Get regular maintenance
There’s a common saying that we should hope for the best and plan for the worst. So keep a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen and near any heating equipment, and make sure each room is set up with a working smoke detector.
You can also have your furnace regularly inspected with a maintenance contract. It can save you money in the long run and help prevent any furnace fires. For more information, contact the certified HVAC professionals at Drake Heating & Air.