HVAC units keep homes comfortable throughout the year, but most people don’t realize that a malfunctioning or old furnace can endanger both their homes and families. Consider carbon monoxide, for example—it’s an odorless, colorless gas that’s produced during combustion, and it can be deadly in the right circumstances. Every gas furnace creates carbon monoxide during the heating process, but most only produce small amounts that are carried out and away from the home. However, furnaces that are running inefficiently because of age or faulty parts can create higher levels of carbon monoxide, which can be toxic to anyone living in the house.
To protect yourself and your family, consider the following HVAC safety tips:
- Have an HVAC professional conduct an annual safety check to ensure your furnace and all its parts are functioning correctly. This may include searching for cracks in the combustion chamber, performing a deep cleaning, or lubricating any motors or bearings.
- Replace your furnace’s air filter three to four times a year, depending on manufacturer recommendations and how frequently you run your HVAC unit.
- Never store combustible materials like solvents and chemicals near your furnace. “If your furnace is in your garage, make sure you keep these items at least three feet away at all times,” says Ricardo Valderama, owner of Bayhill Heat & Air in San Mateo. “If the furnace is in a closet or utility room, you shouldn’t put any chemicals or solvents in that space.”
- Make sure fresh air can flow to and from your HVAC unit. “Sometimes furnaces aren’t aesthetically pleasing and homeowners want to cover them with sheets, but you need to make sure the area around your HVAC unit is always clear and vented,” says Mr. Valderrama.
- Never close more than 20 percent of the air registers in your home. Better yet, keep all register vents open to allow for adequate air circulation and prevent stress on the system.