Temperatures are finally falling across central Pennsylvania and now is the time to prep your home for the winter ahead. Did you know that home winterization can reduce your energy bills and your risk of a house fire? While there are numerous sources of advice for reducing your home energy bills, we will focus our winterization discussion on safety and fire prevention.
Since we already covered space heater safety in depth in a previous post, we will discuss prepping some other heat source options available to homeowners.
The best way to prep your fireplace for winter is to hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace. A chimney sweep will remove any creosote, a flammable byproduct of burning wood, as well as check for any potential hazards, such as cracks in your flue.
Once your chimney has been winterized, cleaned and inspected, there are routine maintenance steps you can take to ensure your family’s safety throughout the winter.
- Use a protective screen. If you only have a glass screen, never close it while a fire is lit
- When removing ashes, always ensure that they are completely cool and never use a vacuum cleaner to do so
- Never leave a fire unattended and never use a fire more than five hours at a time
- Always check your fire tools before igniting a fire. Inspect them to make sure they are in working order and not broken
Just as with fireplaces, hiring a professional to inspect your furnace is the best option when prepping for winter. However, if you choose to prep your own furnace, here are some tips.
- Change your filter once a month
- Loosen dust from the machinery, such as the burners, motor and the fan, with a soft paint brush, and then vacuum the debris away
- Check the burners for misalignment and rust
- Inspect the wires for any looseness or damage
- Inspect the heating vents and exhaust flue for any blockages. It is a good idea to remove the grates and to vacuum the vents clean as well
- Remove any combustible or flammable materials out of the room where your furnace exists. This includes any paints or solvents
Other Winter Fire Prevention Tips
Prepping your heat source is not the only way to prevent a home fire in the winter. There are other steps you can take to further lower your risk of a fire.
- Trim trees on your property. During a heavy snowfall, branches can fall, and if power lines or your house is in their trajectory, you might have a fire on your hands
- Plan on alternate sources of light. Many people have candles for emergency power outages, but consider using battery-operated lights instead
- Check your fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years. Also, be sure that your fire extinguisher is the correct class for your home. Different extinguisher classes cover different types of fires. For instance, you would want a Class A extinguisher for a wood fireplace, but a Class K for your kitchen
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