Home Heating Safety Tips

When temperatures drop, many of us hurry inside to stay warm. But with the rising costs of home heating fuels and utilities, homeowners are searching for alternate sources for home heating.

Alternative Heating Solutions

Using fireplaces and space heaters are ideal solutions. However, they sometimes factor in residential fires. Thankfully, a lot of these fires can be prevented by using these useful safety tips.

Safety Tips for Kerosene Heaters

  • Your heater needs to be in good working condition. Take a look at the exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Make sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case it is knocked over.
  • Avoid using fuel-burning appliances without adequate room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene or propane, for example) can create 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, secured in properly designed metal containers, in well-ventilated storage areas outside of the house.
  • NEVER replenish the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene system, avoid overfilling. DO NOT use cold fuel ,as it could expand in the tank as it gets hot.
  • Refueling is safest when handled away from the home. Keep young children a safe distance from space heaters—namely when they wear loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
  • When using a fuel-burning appliance in the bedroom, make sure there is adequate ventilation to stop a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Safety Tips for Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

  • Ensure your fireplace or stove is installed correctly, is in proper working condition, and is of good quality and strong construction and design.
  • Wood stoves need adequate clearance (36”) from flammable surfaces and robust floor support and protection.
  • Have the chimney checked every year and cleaned if needed, especially if it has not been used for some time.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to ignite or accelerate any fire.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in the fireplace opening to keep embers or sparks from falling out, flammable material from going in, and help minimize the risk of burns to occupants.
  • The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 1530 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Don’t use too much paper to create roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overfilling the fire.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantle. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite these materials.
  • Before you go to sleep, make sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER shut your damper with lit ashes in the fireplace.
  • A shut damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
  • If artificial logs are used, stick to the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to speed up the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, resulting in more hazardous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Inspect the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot on or close to seams might be an indicator of a leak.
  • Check the chimney for any cracks or loose bricks and have a well-trained professional take care of 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 inspected at the start of each winter season to make sure that it is in good working shape.
  • Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
  • Leave furnace repairs to qualified professionals. Do not attempt repairs yourself.
  • Inspect the walls and ceiling close to the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, more pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
  • Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Other Fire Safety Tips:

  • Never get rid of hot ashes inside or near the home. Place 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, try 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 can 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. Be sure that all the windows open quickly. Home escape ladders are beneficial.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow 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.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan with your family.
  • Get in touch with your local fire department for more information if you have a question on home fire safety

If your home's furnace isn’t heating properly, call us today at 512-442-6782 to schedule our industry-leading 26-point heating tune-up to get it running in tip-top shape again.