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How to avoid winter home fires start with your heating system

Winter home fires are a serious threat when they not only cause serious damage and health hazards in their own right but also force families into the cold. One of the most important steps to avoiding a home fire is by ensuring the safety of the systems homeowners rely upon most often. During the cold winter months, this means homeowners need to pay extra attention to their home furnace and heating system. 

Responsible for maintaining a comfortable, temperate atmosphere throughout the home, a furnace that falls into disrepair or that has not been properly maintained can quickly become a potential fire hazard. Being proactive and paying attention, though, can help prevent a furnace from getting to a place where it presents an issue. Look for the following warning signs, and address them as quickly as possible to keep your home, family, and yourself safe. 

Keep The Heating System Clean

A dusty heating system is an unsafe heating system. A build-up of dust and debris within a furnace can become a major fire hazard, as these materials can catch aflame within the heating system as the temperature inside rises. 

Similarly, it’s important to clean the furnace’s flue. Much like a chimney flue, the flue for the furnace will collect soot. As this soot builds up, it can create the perfect conditions for a flame rollout from the furnace, providing the fuel to start a fire within the furnace, and allowing it to roll outward as it consumes the oxygen outside of the enclosed combustion area.  

Cracked or Damaged Heat Exchangers 

The heat exchanger provides the heat for the air that is forced through the furnace before it is sent out through the ventilation to the rest of the home. It uses combustion to do this, and vents any harmful gases created via combustion through an outside vent and the furnace’s flue. As such, not only is the heat exchanger an exceptionally important piece within the heating system, it’s also one of the hardest working pieces in the furnace.

Over time and after many, many repeated cycles, a heat exchanger will begin to form cracks through wear-and-tear. Beginning as hairline fractures, the cracks will worsen as the heat exchanger continues to be in use, as the exchanger physically expands and contracts from heating up, which is where the true issues start. After these cracks become large enough, toxic gases can begin to leak from the cracks, which are harmful by themselves but also can become combustible in large enough quantities. 

Stay apprised for any odd smells emanating from the furnace, particularly rotten eggs. At the first sign of an off smell, make sure the furnace is turned off and inspected by a professional immediately. 

Replace The Air Filter

Much like the dust and debris within the furnace, the dust and debris that gathers on the air filter is similarly an issue. If the air filter becomes too clogged with detritus, it can create a deadly airflow issue, preventing the furnace from receiving the airflow necessary to work as intended. As the furnace works harder to keep up, the internal parts can become so overworked that they can break down, or even spark a fire. 

Checking and replacing the air filter in the furnace is one of the easiest pieces of maintenance to perform, and one of the most important. During the winter months, make sure the filter is checked regularly and replaced about every 30 days. 

A house fire is a harrowing ordeal, and if it can be avoided, it should be. Taking the precautionary steps above will help homeowners do their due diligence to avoid a home furnace fire from springing up during the winter months, but there is no replacement for regular maintenance. If you have yet to schedule annual preventative maintenance for your home’s furnace and heating system, reach out to the technicians at Duane Blanton Family Home Services. Knowledgeable and reliable, the professionals at Duane Blanton will be able to service your home’s furnace and provide the necessary touch-ups to catch issues before they become something larger. Give the experts at Duane Blanton a call today, at (815) 781-2567, or schedule online through your browser with their convenient online scheduling portal.  


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