Winter Heating Safety Pt. 3: Other Heating Sources


As we are sure you know, wood heat and electrical heat aren't the only ways to heat your home this Winter.  There are many different types of heating types that we have categoried under "other" which include Natural Gas and Propane Furnaces, Oil Furnaces, Oil Space Heaters, and Heat Pumps.  We plan to give you very useful safety tips to keep your home safe while using these types of heat. 

Natural Gas and Propane (LPG) Gas Furnaces

Natural Gas and Propane has become one of the most energy efficient ways to heat your home during the Winter months.  If you utilize a system like this, it is important to do the following:

  1. Regularly vacuum the furnace and the area surrounding the furnace, when the unit is off.  This will prevent build up of lint, which creates a fire hazard. 
  2. Teach children to stay away from the grill of the furnace, which gets very hot.  This will also prevent them from leaving items near the furnace, if they aren't allowed to play in that area. 
  3. Keep flammables away from the furnace; such as rugs, blankets, and furniture to not block the airflow.  Also keep any chemicals away from the furnace, as the furnace draws air from the indoors and could draw the chemicals in and could distribute the toxic air throughout the home. 
  4. Inspect all filters at least monthly.  Not only does this increase efficiency, it decreases the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  5. Unvented furnances and space heaters are not intended to heat the entire home.  Relying on these solely can increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Oil Furnaces 

Oil furnaces can be found in many older homes.  As with any heating source, they should be cleaned and inspected yearly by a certified inspector.  This is particularly important with older units, as newer units have many safety features that will shut the unit off if a problem arises.  Here are more safety tips for oil furnaces:

  1. Replace or clearn your filter three to four times a year.  This helps with energy efficiency and will save money; as well as help prevent fires.
  2. Keep the area around the furnace clean and unobstructed.  As with all heating equipment, keep flammable materials away. 
  3. Keep the burner area of the furnace clean.
  4. Do not have anything combustible within six inches of vent pipes. 
  5. Do not close off more than 20% of the heat registers in the home.  This can cause unnecessary heat build up in the furnace. 
  6. Always beware of carbon monoxide.  It is a great idea to purchase a Carbon Monoxide Alarm, similar to Smoke Alarms, to place in your home. 

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are widely used throughout the area in newer homes.  They allow heat in the Winter and air conditioning in the Summer.  Follow these tips to maintain a safe system:

  1. Clean or replace the air filter every month when the heat pump is in use.  Some filters may need clearing more frequently, especially those designed for increased indoor air quality.
  2. Have the unit service annually, which should include cleaning the fan in the blowing unit.
  3. Keep all room supply registers open.  Avoid blocking them with any furniture or other items. 
  4. Tidy up aroud the unit.  Keep leaves, grass, shrubs, snow, and other materials from blocking the airflow. 
  5. If a problem occurs, do not shut the unit off at the circuit breaker, unless an actual fire is occurring.  This could damage the unit. 


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