Home Heating & Safety

Inspect Fireplaces

Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if the chimney is not properly cleaned. Always protect your family and home by using a sturdy screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only wood--never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out of the chimney and ignite a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes.

Watch Your Wood Stoves

Be sure your wood or coal stove bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Follow manufacturers' recommendations for proper use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned if necessary. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only wood, and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and hot coals. Be sure to check with your local fire department and check local codes before having your wood stove installed.

Be Cautious With Portable and Space Heaters

Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets, and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don't leave children or pets unattended with space heaters, and be sure everyone knows that drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.

Excerpted from: New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health

In our efforts to stay warm this winter, it's important to remember that heating equipment is the number one cause of home fires in the United States. To ensure your safety, you should follow these fire safety tips provided by the National Fire Protection Association:

  • If you have a fireplace, make sure you have your chimney inspected by a professional every winter and cleaned if necessary. A chemical substance called Creosote forms when wood burns and can build up in a chimney and cause a fire if not properly cleaned.
  • Protect your home and family by always using a sturdy screen when burning wood.
  • Remember to burn wood only. Never burn paper or pine boughs because they can float out of the chimney and ignite your roof or that of a neighboring house.
  • If you purchase a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by an independent testing laboratory.
  • If you own a wood stove, be sure to inspect chimney connections and chimney flues at the beginning of each heating season. They should also be cleaned periodically.
  • Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn wood only and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect your floor from heat and hot coals. Be sure to check with your local fire department and check local codes before having your wood stove installed.
  • Remember: SAFETY should be your first consideration when heating your home.

Furnace Maintenance and Safety

From WE Electric

Use this easy 8-step checklist each year to be sure your natural gas heating system is working efficiently and safely. All you need is a flashlight, an oven mitt or heavy-duty gloves, a rag and a little detective work.

  1. Check the Pilot Light. Is it on? If not, carefully re-light it following the directions on your furnace or in your owner's manual.
  2. Check the Flames. All gas flames should be crisp, quiet and blue. If flames are yellow or appear "soft," shut off the furnace and call a local heating contractor or the gas company.
  3. Look for Soot. Soot or carbon deposits on the burner, in the flames or in the vent pipes mean your system is not burning efficiently. The burner may have to be cleaned or adjusted, or the chimney and vents may need to be inspected for possible blockage.
  4. Try the Thermostat. Turn the dial to the highest point, then back to 68oF. Let the heater warm up for 10 minutes. Hold your hand under the vent hood. See your owner's manual to locate the vent hood. If you notice hot air backing out of the vent hood, turn off the furnace and call your local heating contractor. Hot air can mean blockage in the vent or chimney.
  5. Inspect the Vent and Flue Pipes. Look for rust or rotted-out areas which could allow combustion fumes to escape into your home. Learn about Carbon Monoxide dangers. Don't patch or repair rusted or rotted pipes; put in new ones immediately.
  6. Squeeze the Flue Pipes. Pipes can be hot! Wear an oven mitt. Squeeze the flue pipes near the chimney. If pipes feel soft, shut off the furnace and replace the pipes immediately.
  7. Check the Chimney. Clean loose mortar and dirt from the chimney. Open the clean-out door at the base and remove any leaves, nests and other debris. Use a mirror to look up the chimney to make sure the passage is clear.
  8. Change or Clean the Air Filter. Your furnace will run more efficiently with a new or clean air filter. Air filters should be changed or cleaned monthly during the heating season. Many of today's newer filters are washable and require less attention. Refer to your owner's manual for your particular model.
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