As crisp fall days give way to winter weather, many will soon reach for the thermostat to light their furnace. These modern conveniences keep homes cozy and comfortable, but improper maintenance or misuse can turn them into fire and health hazards. Keep reading to learn three tips to help your furnace run efficiently.
How to Safely Use Your Furnace
1. Take It for a Test Drive
Test your furnace early in the season to ensure it is working properly. Turn it on and let it run for 30 minutes. It is normal to smell a slight burning odor when starting the unit for the first time due to the dust that has settled over the summer. If the smell continues or gets worse, it is a sign that the system needs cleaning.
Unusual banging or vibrating noises could indicate a broken fan or faulty blower. Feel the airflow from the vents; if it is not strong and consistent in every room, there could be a blockage. Schedule an inspection to have any issues diagnosed and corrected to ensure you have a safe and functioning furnace ready for the winter.
2. Ensure Propper Airflow
Disrupted airflow results in uneven and inefficient heating throughout the house. It can also increase carbon dioxide levels, which causes serious health issues such as headaches, vomiting, chest pains, and confusion.
Changing your furnace’s filter every 90 days can help ensure it gets the air it needs to work efficiently and improve the air quality throughout your home. Regularly clean the vents in each room with a vacuum or a damp cloth to reduce dust and allergens and promote proper airflow. Consider scheduling air duct cleaning once a year to remove potential blockages and harmful pollutants.
3. Keep Flammable Objects Away
Furnaces are often located in basements or garages, where families tend to store many flammable items such as cardboard boxes, clothing, and old newspapers. Placing these items too close to the furnace not only creates a fire hazard, but it also reduces its efficiency and the home’s air quality.
Maintaining a three-foot clearance around the furnace helps keep flammable objects at a safe distance. Keep harmful chemicals, such as ammonia, gasoline, and paint thinner, in a separate room or a sealed container. Fumes from these substances can corrode the furnace’s components or get distributed throughout the home, causing serious health issues.