During cold winter months, our home heaters work overtime to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Heating equipment is the number two cause of household fires and home fire deaths in the United States. Heating fires can be disastrous for homeowners. If you’re not careful, almost any heating element can cause a fire, but the most common sources are space heaters, fireplaces, and water heaters. Take the necessary precautions to keep your family safe from the threat of household heating fires this winter.

Practice Space Heater Safety

Space heaters are responsible for about 70 percent of winter household fires and fire-related deaths. If a space heater falls over and does not shut off, you could easily have a fire on your hands, especially if it falls onto carpet. For this reason, it is best to purchase space heaters that have emergency cut-offs. These mechanisms ensure that the space heater will automatically shut off if it gets tipped over. This is an easy way to prevent accidental household heating fires.

Another space heater safety tip is to never leave a space heater unattended; turn it off before you go to bed or leave the house. That way, if the space heater short-circuits or has any other issue, you can unplug it before it causes a fire. Also make sure to plug the space heater directly into the wall, preferably into a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) system. This type of outlet protects against electrical shock and fire, and if a malfunction occurs, the electricity will shut off automatically. It is also good practice to keep your space heater on a flat, nonflammable surface that will not be affected by heat. Make sure the space heater is kept away from flammable objects such as curtains and bedding while plugged in. Following these preventative measures will help keep your home safe from space heater fires.

Maintain Your Heating System

You should change your furnace filter once a month during winter. This prevents dust and debris from building up and blocking the line of heat, keeping air flowing how it should be. Efficient air flow is key to preventing fires from originating in your heating system. For further heater safety, you should also always make sure the area around your furnace and HVAC unit is clear. There should not be any flammable materials around your furnace. Have an HVAC professional inspect your furnace and HVAC system and clean your air ducts regularly. This will ensure your heating system is working correctly and will not experience a fire-igniting malfunction.

Clean and Inspect Your Chimney

It is a good idea to have your chimney cleaned each year to remove soot and creosote. You can hire a professional chimney sweep to do this, or you can use a Creosote Sweeping Log to dissolve contaminants in your chimney. You should also regularly inspect your chimney to check for any cracks and air leaks. An air leak can affect the flame inside your fireplace and cause a fire on the outside your fireplace where it can start a household fire.

Use a Diffusion Screen

When you use a diffusion screen with your fireplace, you protect your home from the risk of flaming logs rolling out of the fireplace, which can start a fire in your home. Diffusion screens also keep sparks from jumping out of the fireplace to cause fires. This is an especially important layer of protection if you have wood flooring or carpet in front of your fireplace. You should also make sure you do not have anything flammable near your fireplace. Just one stray ember can ignite a fire if it falls onto a flammable surface. Whenever you use a fireplace, whether you have a diffusion screen or not, always keep an eye on it to make sure nothing goes wrong.

Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can save you and your family from accidental household heating fires. If a heating element malfunctions and starts smoking or ignites a fire, smoke detectors will alert you to know that something’s wrong. Getting an early warning that smoke is present in your home allows you to address the problem before it becomes a full-on fire.

If you have a furnace that runs on natural gas, it can malfunction and leak natural gas into your home. This gas is very flammable and can cause fires or even explosions in your home, and leaks can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning for you and your family. A functioning carbon monoxide detector will alert you if this toxic gas is present so that you can get the leak fixed before it causes problems in your home. To make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will work when you need them to, you should test them twice a year. If you notice that they are not working properly, replace them immediately.

Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance with an HVAC Company

Regular HVAC maintenance will make sure your HVAC system is always running smoothly. An annual inspection will check for malfunctions, leaks, debris buildup, etc. that could lead to major problems or household fires. An HVAC company can provide a tune-up and make sure your HVAC system is up to date. About 64 percent of household heating fires occur because of a failure to maintain heating equipment. Avoid being a part of this statistic by scheduling regular HVAC maintenance.

Trusted HVAC Company in East Tennessee

City Heating and Air Conditioning is one of the most trusted HVAC companies in East Tennessee. Our expert HVAC technicians can provide you with regular HVAC maintenance to ensure your system is working as it should be, and we can fix any HVAC problem you may have. Whether you want to get an HVAC system tune-up, need a repair, or want to replace your HVAC unit, we can help. Reach out to us today to schedule our services, either online or by calling 865-938-1005.