Is My Furnace Safe?

Is My Furnace Safe?

Your furnace is one of the most important appliances in your home and one of your biggest fire hazards.  Maintaining a clean furnace is critical to your safety; and the safety of your neighbors.  Here, I’m going to explore a few top considerations and tips to keep in mind when caring for your furnace.  Always refer to the safety instructions on the appliance itself.

1 – Age of Furnace

If you’re moving into a new home, make sure to have an inspector come check it. This is typically mandated through the home-buying process to begin with, but to pass on having an expert look over your furnace would be a mistake.  Even if the home is new to you, the furnace may be much older.  It’s likely that the current owners haven’t replaced the furnace in quite some time and will grant you a credit, but do not move into any new home without first having an inspector tell you the furnace is safe.

2 – Consistency of Maintenance / Usage

The safety of your furnace could depend upon the type of filters you use.  Older models have steel filters that look like plates – simply take them out of the unit and clean off the dust; you can even clean them through the dishwasher.  Older furnace filters contain fiberglass wool, so avoid breathing in those toxins.  Newer models have filters made from flexible materials that should be replaced every 1-3 months depending on the use of your furnace.  It is also important to clean your furnace every year.  Experts recommend having an HVAC inspector clean it for you, but if you’re handy, you can shut off the unit and move the wires to clean the furnace yourself.  Simply vacuum the dust out and wipe off any debris with a wet cloth.

3 – Furnace Location

Whether you have plenty of room surrounding your furnace or it is located in a small utility room, make sure to keep anything far away from the unit, especially the pilot light / flame.  Do not use or store gasoline or any other flammable vapors or liquids near the furnace.  Do not stack newspapers, magazines, or any other type of paperwork in the vicinity.  To ensure your furnace is safe, keep the immediate area clean of any materials that could be a fire risk. 

4 – Single Family Home vs. Community Living

Furnace safety is imperative to begin with.  If you have a single-family home, it’s your family at risk.  If you live in a community, such as a condo, townhouse, apartment, or other type of home in which you share walls, remember that your own safety isn’t the only thing to consider – you are responsible for all the units around you and the folks who live there.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring furnace safety carries utmost responsibility.  Replace filters with one of the same type and size, consider other people who may be affected by fire, and regularly have your furnace checked by a professional to uncover any gas leaks that may arise from the piping.  Refer to the manufacture instructions, user manual and safety stickers on the appliance to ensure maximum furnace safety.