Important Home Fire Safety Tips: HVAC Edition

Shipton's Heating in Hamilton provides important home furnace safety tips.

This year’s holiday season felt different for reasons we can’t control. It’s no surprise most of us are sticking close to home for the rest of the winter!

And this is smart on multiple levels – for our health, for our stress levels and, for many of us after a rough financial year due to COVID, for our budget as well.

Staying home more, however, could mean a spike in home fires if we let ourselves get careless!

With no ready escape to warmer climates this year, the majority of us will be sheltering in place all winter long. While our furnaces will be working overtime as usual, we may not realize that when a furnace works harder, it can require more maintenance and timely repairs in order to function safely.

This is why our team at Shipton’s Heating And Cooling decided to discuss the difficult and timely topic of home fire safety tips – HVAC edition!

Important Home Fire Statistics

HVAC-initiated home fires are actually surprisingly common. According to the National Fire Protection Association, after cooking and smoking, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires.

Red Cross Canada states that residential heating equipment-related home fires cause one out of every six home fires nationwide. One in five of these fires happens from December to January.

It takes just 30 seconds for a spark to turn into a raging inferno. If you don’t get out in the first two minutes, it may be too late to escape to safety!

Can a Furnace Catch Fire or Start a Fire?

The number one heating equipment-related cause of home fires is space heaters, followed up by fireplaces. Home furnaces come in at a solid third place.

Believe it or not though, the number one cause of furnace-related home fires doesn’t actually have anything to do with a malfunctioning furnace!

Read on to find out what that cause is and learn about five more furnace safety issues that can lead to home fires this winter!

1. Clutter

The leading cause of furnace-related home fires isn’t a malfunctioning or poorly maintained furnace. It is a furnace surrounded by clutter.

Our heating specialists at Shipton’s recommend that you keep a three-foot (minimum) swath of clear space around all heating equipment. This will prevent items from catching fire and spreading to the rest of your home.

2. Bad Electrical Wiring

Burning, loose or corroded electrical connections are a common cause of HVAC-related home fires in both summer and winter.

This is precisely why checking wiring is a standard part of furnace preventative maintenance and safety inspections. 

Not sure how to check your furnace wiring yourself? Contact one of our qualified HVAC technicians at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling in Hamilton!

3. Gas Pressure

When gas connections become loose or wear out over time, this can cause problems with the heat exchanger and lead to overheating or gas leakage.

Luckily, gas leaks are among the easiest problems to identify. Why? Because of the telltale smell of rotten eggs. If you ever smell rotten eggs in your home, shut off your HVAC, leave and call Shipton’s Heating and Cooling right away!

4. Pilot Light or Thermocouple

Pilot light problems offer some advance warning of a home fire risk. When the pilot light goes out, this can cause gas to leak into the surrounding air. A dirty or malfunctioning pilot light may also change colour.

Many newer furnaces do not use the traditional pilot light flame with a thermocouple safety feature. If, however, you have an older furnace, you need to know how to check the pilot light. 

Contact our Shipton’s Heating specialists in Hamilton for a furnace check-up or maintenance appointment today!

5. Air Filter

The heat exchanger is one of the big ticket parts that keeps your furnace running. The blower motor is the other!

The air filter is one of the cheapest components of the typical furnace and the part most commonly responsible for cracked or overheating heat exchangers and blower motors.

When you change your air filter every 30 days (minimum) you greatly reduce the risk of internal overheating in your furnace that may trigger a home fire.

When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? Not sure? Contact Shipton’s Heating specialists today to book your furnace filter replacement!

A Surprise Cause of Furnace Related Home Fires

Many of our customers know that Shipton’s has a sister company, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, that provides indoor air testing and implements residential and commercial indoor air quality solutions.

One of many reasons we launched Clean Air Solutions Hamilton is because HVAC home safety extends beyond the boundaries of the furnace and air conditioning appliances themselves.

In fact, one of the main reasons why home fires spread so quickly is because of the modern invention of central duct work.

If you think a dirty air filter poses a fire risk, consider what happens once a fire sparks and begins to travel through the air ducts to reach other rooms in your home.

Fire seeks combustibles to gain strength and spread.

The average air duct system is loaded with combustibles:

  • Dust
  • Dirt
  • Debris
  • Insects
  • Nesting materials left behind by rodents etc. 

We have even found old VHS tapes, comic books and missing socks inside duct systems!

Indoor air duct cleaning securely and safely removes trapped materials to lower your overall home fire risk. 

For even more safeguards, we recommend installing fire dampers, which work through heat sensors that will close the dampers to prevent ducts from becoming a pathway for fire to spread.

Preventative Furnace Maintenance May Save Your Life

With all eyes on the latest COVID-19 statistics, it is easy to forget that the new novel coronavirus isn’t the only winter safety threat to be concerned about.

Now is the perfect time to schedule your preventative furnace maintenance to ensure your HVAC is functioning flawlessly, and safely, and will continue to do so all winter long!

Contact Shipton’s for Expert Hamilton, Ontario HVAC Service

Our knowledgeable and friendly service technicians here at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling are standing by to serve your HVAC maintenance and repair needs. When you call, be sure to request our safe contact-less service, invoicing and payment options!

Contact our team today to schedule your winter furnace preventative maintenance and safety check at 1-905-549-4616 or visit us online!

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