Home Heating Safety Tips

When temperatures fall, most of us hurry inside where it’s warmer. But with the increasing costs of home heating fuels and utilities, people are searching for alternate sources for home heating.

Alternative Heating Solutions

The use of fireplaces and space heaters are a couple of solutions. However, they may lead to residential fires. Luckily, many of these fires can be prevented by following these quality safety tips.

Safety Tips for Kerosene Heaters

  • Your heater has be in good working condition. Take a look at the exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Take the steps necessary so the heater has an emergency shut off in case it is tipped over.
  • Avoid using fuel-burning appliances without quality room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene or propane, for example) can generate deadly fumes.
  • ONLY use the fuel suggested by the heater manufacturer. NEVER use a fuel into equipment not designed for that type of fuel.
  • Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids, protected in appropriate metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas apart from the house.
  • NEVER refuel the heater while it is working or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene heater, watch out for overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel ,as it can expand in the tank as it gets hot.
  • Refueling is safest when handled away from the home. Keep young children away from space heaters—especially when they are wearing loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel-burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to minimize a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Safety Tips for Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

  • Ensure your fireplace or stove is installed according to manufacturer standards, is in proper working condition, and is of good quality and solid construction and design.
  • Wood stoves need adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces and sturdy floor support and protection.
  • Have the chimney checked annually and cleaned if needed, especially if it has not been running for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, flammable material from going in, and help decrease the possibility of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 1530 minutes to lower the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Don’t use a great deal of paper to create roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  • Never ignite charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can produce lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials a safe distance from your fireplace mantle. A spark from the fireplace could quickly ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to sleep, make sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER seal your damper with smoldering ashes in the fireplace.
  • A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They frequently burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or near seams could be evidence of a leak.
  • Check the chimney for any cracks or loose bricks and have a well-trained professional repair any found.
  • All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.

Safety Tips for Furnace Heating

  • It is important that you have your furnace checked before each winter season to ensure that it is in good working shape.
  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to insured experts. Do not attempt repairs yourself.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, more pipe insulation or clearance may be necessary.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Other Fire Safety Tips:

  • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Store them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
  • Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety matter, but it also could be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
  • If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords that have the required rating to carry an amp load.
    • TIP: Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
  • Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
  • If your water pipes have frozen, NEVER try to thaw them with a blowtorch or other open flame. The pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Instead use hot water or a device like a handheld dryer for thawing.
  • If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should catch. Make sure that all the windows open fully. Home escape ladders are suggested.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant snow-free so in the event it is needed, it can be easily reached.
  • Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it each month.
  • Create and practice a home escape plan with your family.
  • Contact your local fire department for advice if you have a question on home fire safety

If your home's furnace isn’t heating properly, call us today at 727-545-8731 to schedule our industry-leading 26-point heating tune-up to get it running in tip-top shape again.