Firing Up your Furnace: Fire Safety Tips for Fall

furnace fire safetyBrrrrrr—! There’s no denying it: Summer has finally flown the coop and frosty nights are in the forecast. If you have yet to crank up your furnace this fall, you’re a braver soul than most. And although you’ll soon have warm, fuzzy feelings toward your furnace during the frigid winter months, a furnace fire in your home or place of business can be your worst nightmare. According to FEMA, heating is second only to cooking as the leading culprit behind residential fires in the fall and winter months. The good news? The percentage of heating-related fires is on the decline, dramatically down from about 30 years ago when a surge in the use of space heaters and natural wood stoves (due to the energy shortage and environmental concerns) caused a spike in the nation’s heating-related fires.

How can you help prevent heating-related fires?

Generally speaking, there are three leading factors in ignition: operational error, misuse of heating equipment and mechanical failure. For starters, before the first hard freeze hits, it’s a good idea to fire up your furnace (no pun intended) and make sure everything’s running smoothly. Pick a mild day when you can open the windows and air out that musty odor that emanates from a furnace that’s been idle for the summer months. With furnace fires, something as simple as a ball of lint trapped in the heating ducts can start trouble. Thus, routine maintenance—at least yearly—is key. Have a professional cleaning and restoration service check your ductwork for any obstructions or buildup; they have professional-grade vacuum equipment that ensures a thorough cleaning. It’s also recommended to schedule an annual house call for your furnace (especially if it’s an older model) by an HVAC professional, who will perform a careful inspection and make sure everything is up to code.

Furnace 101: Don’t be caught unfiltered

Do-it-yourselfers, here’s a recurring item to add to your honey-do list: Stock up on properly sized furnace filters and change them often! It’s a small task that can make a big difference in safety, not to mention the health of your family and friends—especially allergy sufferers—by providing improved air quality. On average, it’s suggested that furnace filters should be changed every three to four months. Here are a few more tips to consider while trying to stay toasty:
  • Remove all flammable materials and chemicals from the area surrounding your furnace
  • Be aware of changes in the air, such as an unusual odor, that may indicate your furnace is on the fritz
  • Newer furnaces have a hot-surface ignition system which is safer than old pilot-light systems; however, even newer models should be regularly maintained for safety
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly; close them when water appears
  • Swap out your old system for a programmable thermostat for energy and cost savings
If a fire does occur despite taking precautions, the professional restoration service you would contact to clean your ducts may also be an invaluable resource for putting your life back in order after a disaster. For example, LDR Cleaning & Restoration headquartered in Rockford, IL, is also a disaster restoration specialist capable of containing the smoke damage, removing soot and odor, and guiding you through the entire fire restoration process. The sooner you contact them after the blaze, the better. Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon


 

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