Home Heating Safety: Tips for Cold Weather

Winter has officially arrived in the U.S., requiring you to run the heater at maximum power to keep your home comfortable. Are you sure your furnace, space heater, fireplace and other heating appliances are safe? While essential for staying warm, heating equipment can become a hazard if not used and maintained properly. Check out some vital heating system safety tips to ensure a cozy and safe winter.

Knowing the Risks

Because households rely heavily on heating systems when it’s cold, home fires and heating-related accidents spike this time of year. Some typical risks include:

Candles and holiday decorations: Winter festivities frequently include decorative lights and candles. Although these items make the long winter nights more inviting, they can become safety risks if left unattended or set near flammable materials.

Generators: Operating a generator during a power outage is a helpful backup plan. On the other hand, incorrect use can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shocks and fires. Make sure these appliances are located outside and far from windows or doors.

Heating appliances: Space heaters, furnaces and fireplaces play a crucial role in causing home fires during the winter season. While engineered to function safely, these devices can become dangerous if they are outdated, malfunctioning or misused.

Not enough ventilation: Inadequate ventilation can cause dangerous carbon monoxide buildup, especially from natural gas, propane or oil heaters.

Old wiring: Older homes with antiquated electrical systems may face challenges when trying to meet the demands of today’s heating appliances. When operated beyond its capacity, the wiring may overheat, increasing the risk of electrical fires.

Incorrect use of heating devices: Using equipment for unintended purposes, like running the oven to provide warmth, or placing wet socks over a space heater, can be risky.

General Precautions

Use these safety tips in the winter and through the year to keep your household and family safe:

Gas leaks: If you smell a strange rotten egg smell, it could be a gas leak. For your safety, act immediately—open windows and doors to ventilate the area, evacuate the area and get in touch with your local gas company and fire department.

Combustible items: Always put anything that can burn no less than 3 feet away from heating sources like furnaces, fireplaces and portable space heaters.

Children’s safety: Instruct your youngest family members about the dangers of matches, candles and heating products. Next, establish a “kid-free zone” close to open flames and heaters to prevent accidents. 

Energy safety: Don’t use heating appliances with extension cords or power strips. In addition, plug only one high-power-draw device into an electrical outlet at a time. These guidelines help prevent electrical overloads, which can cause overheating and fires.

Candle safety: Carefully watch lit candles and blow them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms: Install these products in your home, especially right next to sleeping areas and test them monthly.

Safety Strategies for Heating Appliances

Here are some helpful heating system safety tricks to take into account this winter:

Professional HVAC service: Because a poor setup can increase the risk of fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical shock, you should always leave furnace installation to a professional. You’ll enjoy peace of mind for a long time, knowing your equipment is operating the way it should.

Scheduled maintenance: Yearly inspections of your heating equipment and chimneys by trained professionals can expose hidden issues that might not be apparent to the untrained eye. These visits can find worn-out parts, ventilation issues and potential gas leaks. Scheduled maintenance also ensures peak efficiency and lengthens your system’s life span.

Space heaters: You shouldn’t ever allow space heaters to run unattended or while you’re in bed. Place these items on a stable, non-flammable surface and keep anything that could catch fire away from the front, back and sides of the heater.

Fireplaces: Install a metal screen in front of the fireplace to stop sparks from flying out and igniting nearby objects. Put out the flames before leaving your dwelling or sleeping. Once it has completely cooled, collect the ashes in a metal container and store them outside a safe distance from your house.

Partner with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for Heating Service in the U.S.

As the cold weather gets worse, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is ready to maintain your comfort and security. Our ACE-certified technicians deliver fast, long-lasting answers for all your heating needs, with services backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with our performance, you can rely on us to make it right. Along with our technical expertise, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is very involved in the local communities we serve and remain committed to innovation and customer engagement. For heating service in your neighborhood, call 866-397-3787 today to schedule an appointment with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

  • How to Pick Out a Suitable HVAC System

    When it comes to keeping your home comfortable year-round, nothing is more important than choosing the right heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This decision affects your daily comfort, monthly utility expenses and overall home efficiency. However, with so many system types,... Continue reading

  • Annual HVAC Maintenance Checklist

    As soon as the air gets colder, you know it’s time to get your home ready for the cooler months ahead. Your heating system is key to maintaining a cozy, warm atmosphere. A well-maintained furnace provides the comfort you crave while using a smaller amount of energy. Regular inspections also make... Continue reading

  • HVAC Trends: What’s New in 2024

    In the ever-changing world of home heating and cooling, keeping up with the current HVAC trends is imperative for homeowners looking to enhance their home’s comfort and efficiency. As we move into 2024, the HVAC industry continues to innovate, bringing cutting-edge technologies and trends... Continue reading