Home Heating Safety: Tips for Cold Weather

Winter has officially arrived in the U.S., leaving you no choice but to run the heater at maximum power to keep your home comfortable. Are you sure your furnace, space heater, fireplace and other heating equipment is safe? While vital for staying warm, heating equipment can be risky if not used and maintained appropriately. Discover some essential heating system safety tips to ensure a warm and safe winter.

Identifying the Risks

Because homes rely heavily on heating systems when it’s cold, home fires and heating-related accidents spike this time of year. A few common risks include:

Candles and holiday decorations: Winter events often include decorative lights and candles. Even though these items make the long winter nights more inviting, they can become fire hazards if left unattended or left near flammable materials.

Generators: Operating a generator during an electricity outage is a helpful backup plan. On the other hand, using them incorrectly can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical shocks and fires. Make sure these devices are located outside and far from windows or doors.

Heating appliances: Space heaters, furnaces and fireplaces are among the many threats of home fires during the winter. Even though crafted to operate safely, these devices can become dangerous if they are outdated, malfunctioning or not operated safely.

Poor ventilation: Improper ventilation can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup, especially from natural gas, propane or oil heaters.

Old wiring: Older homes with outdated electrical systems may struggle with the demands of contemporary heating appliances. When overloaded, the wiring may overheat, increasing the risk of electrical fires.

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

General Safeguards

Use these safety guidelines in the winter and throughout the year to keep your home and family safe:

Gas leaks: If you notice a mysterious rotten egg smell, it might be a gas leak. For your protection, act immediately—open windows and doors to air out the building, evacuate the area and contact your local gas company and fire department.

Flammable items: Always put anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating sources like furnaces, fireplaces and portable space heaters.

Children’s safety: Teach your children about the risks of matches, candles and heating devices. Then, establish a “kid-free zone” near open flames and heaters to prevent accidents. 

Energy safety: Do not run heating equipment using extension cords or power strips. Also, plug only one high-power-draw device into an electrical outlet at a time. These guidelines help avoid electrical overloads, which can cause overheating and fires.

Candle safety: Carefully monitor lit candles and make sure they are extinguished before exiting the room or going to sleep.

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

Specific Heating Equipment Tips

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

Professional installation: 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 many years, knowing your equipment is running the way it is supposed to.

Regular maintenance: Yearly inspections of your heating equipment and chimneys by skilled professionals can uncover hidden concerns that might not be apparent to the untrained eye. These inspections can find worn-out parts, ventilation problems and potential gas leaks. Routine maintenance also ensures maximum efficiency and extends your system’s life span.

Space heaters: Never allow space heaters to run unattended or while you’re sleeping. Position these devices on a stable, non-flammable surface and keep anything that could catch fire away from the front, back and sides of the unit.

Fireplaces: Place a metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from escaping and igniting nearby objects. Extinguish the flames before leaving your dwelling or nodding off to sleep. Once it has entirely cooled, put 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 winter months intensify, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is ready to preserve your comfort and security. Our ACE-certified technicians offer fast, long-lasting solutions for all your heating needs, with services backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not thrilled with our service, you can count on us to make it right. Along with our technical expertise, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is significantly involved in the local communities we serve and remain committed to innovation and customer engagement. For help ensuring a worry-free winter, call 866-397-3787 today to schedule an appointment with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

  • Zoning Systems: Control the Temperature in Every Room

    Central heating and air systems have radically changed home comfort and made it possible to stay completely cozy in any season or climate. But while centralized systems are a handy way to regulate the temperature, they at times fall short when it comes to evenly distributing heated or cooled air... Continue reading

  • Eight Popular Heating Fallacies Debunked

    There are many myths out there about home heating that create confusion and inefficient furnace use. It’s time to clear up these common misconceptions. Here, the heating professionals at Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing get to the bottom of the eight most common myths to... Continue reading

  • Eight Upgrades to Boost Your Home HVAC System

    During the coldest time of the year in the U.S., there’s no better way to improve your home’s comfort than with some effective upgrades. It’s not just about keeping the house toasty warm as the snow begins to fall—it’s about boosting efficiency and improving the very air you breathe.... Continue reading