Richmond normally has one last end-of-summer heat wave, but Virginia weather can change very quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be cranking up the heat. After all, you want to stay warm and comfortable during those cool nights as we transition into the fall season.
An often overlooked concern this time of year, however, is gas furnace safety. You haven’t used your furnace in months, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs that things aren’t working as well as they should. Being proactive can go a long way towards keeping both your home and family safe.
Fire Prevention Week
This year, Fire Prevention Week runs from October 6-12 and it’s a great opportunity to give your HVAC unit some much-needed love and attention. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has some excellent resources to get the whole family involved in making sure you’re prepared for a fire in your home by discussing the following:
- Escape planning
- Smoke alarms at home
- Home fire sprinklers
- Safety for people with disabilities
- Heating safety
While we are most focused on heating safety, be sure to check out all of the safety tip sheets on the NFPA website!
Yearly Furnace Inspections
Although, we’re an HVAC company, we aren’t just making this suggestion to drum up business. We can’t stress enough how important regularly maintaining your furnace is to protecting your home and family. Scheduling yearly furnace inspections can help identify issues before they become big problems.
Not only will an experienced technician look for signs that your HVAC system’s performance is lacking, but they will also look for anything that needs to be repaired or replaced for safety reasons. Don’t put this off — it’s a very worthwhile investment!
Most homes have smoke detectors, but it’s important to also install ones that can detect carbon monoxide. Remember, the gas is colorless and odorless, so it can be permeating your home without you even realizing. If you notice any sudden flu-like symptoms or disorientation, get out of the house and see a doctor.
It’s not enough, though, to have the detectors in your home. Be sure to check them regularly to make sure they are working properly, and replace the batteries at the beginning of each season. This is one of your best defenses against carbon monoxide or smoke in your home, so don’t take any chances!
Change Your Air Filter
Yes, we suggest changing your air filter for just about everything, but that’s because it’s as effective as it is affordable. When your filter is clogged with particles, it affects the efficiency of your HVAC unit and negatively impacts indoor air quality.
Also, you may want to change your filter more often if you have a large family, pets, suffer from health conditions such as asthma, have recently renovated your home, or had a large number of guests (common during the holidays!). Seriously, this is one of the simplest ways to keep the air inside of your home fresh and the burden on your furnace low with very little effort.
Give Your Furnace Space
One of the most important things you can do is keep the area around your furnace clean, clear and unobstructed. It’s especially important to keep any combustible materials far away from it! Regularly vacuum the area around your furnace and keep an eye out for any of the following:
- Soot — This can be a sign that something is going on with your ventilation system.
- Gas smell — Leave the area immediately and call the fire department or your gas company.
- Discoloration — If the walls and ceiling around your furnace look strange, call a professional.
- Weird flame — Your furnace flame should be blue. If it’s a different color, have it inspected.
This should go without saying, but also make sure that kids know not to go anywhere near the furnace. It’s not a play area and can be very, very dangerous. Also, be sure to keep a functioning fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
HVAC equipment is expensive and your family’s health is precious. Why not schedule a free consultation with W.G. Speeks to give you peace of mind before the cold weather rolls in? Our NATE-certified technicians can provide guidance on how to stay safe and improve efficiency this time of year.
We’ll also help you assess whether you need to consider replacing your furnace. If it’s more than 15 years old, breaks down frequently, and your energy costs have risen, it might be time. W.G. Speeks has been helping residents in the Greater Richmond Region with their heating and cooling needs for more than 75 years, and we’ll be happy to do the same for you. Give us a call today!