Whether winter lasts for several months like our friends out west, or just a mild month or two here in southwest Florida, our homes need to be equipped for winter heating.
Every homeowner’s furnace must be functioning at peak performance levels, and the fireplace must be clean as a whistle and ready to roar.
Indeed, the comforts of sitting by a fire (natural or electric) will never cease but we must, in all things, be sure we’re never creating a safety risk.
So, in an effort to make every season in your home a smooth sail, we have five things to keep an eye on as we enjoy the cooler months of the year.
1. Space Heaters
We hate to say this because they’re so small and efficient… As soon as you fire up a space heater, you’re bound to feel some instant warmth and create a wonderful heat setting. However, with an efficiency that strong, they also come with a slew of hazards.
The first thing to note about a space heater is its location. Make sure there are three feet of space on every side of the heater. Anything that could potentially go up in flames may do just that. Remember, some space heaters can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Never place a space heater on the carpet for the above reasons and never run it non-stop (given that 100-degree mark). You also don’t want to place it in an area with high traffic. If it ever gets kicked over, that’s another invitation to start a fire.
2. Open Ovens
If you love to bake, then keep that oven roaring. But, if you’re going to turn on your oven and leave it open to heat the house, please don’t.
First, it’s highly inefficient. It may heat the surrounding area, but it won’t be able to heat your entire home. Second, it poses another safety risk to children or pets who may be passing by.
Third, if you do this regularly and don’t notice that your gas flame isn’t burning efficiently, then you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Oven maintenance is important for this reason, no matter the season.
3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The CDC estimates that nearly 50,000 people succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning each year. Unfortunately, the winter months are the biggest culprits because home heating systems can run for hours at a time.
One of the best ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to have your heating system serviced by a qualified professional. And what’s the best temperature for a heater in the winter?
Well, your service professional will help you set the best temperature for a heater in the winter. They can also make sure your vents are free from debris, which is very important for both efficiency and safety.
4. Fireplace Fires
If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home, then you’re lucky enough. Nothing beats the ambiance it creates and the winter heater temp it sets. However, you have to be careful with any residual ashes or coals from previous fires.
Be sure to clean out all your burned ashes after each use and place them in a metal container no less than ten feet away from the house. You’ll also want to have a screen standing before the fire to prevent any ongoing ashes from jumping out.
This is also the time to make sure your chimney is in order. Believe it or not, chimney sweeps are not just from the Disney classic Mary Poppins. They’re still around today and are very valuable. A clogged chimney is just another fire hazard waiting to happen.
Of course, candles are not hazards that are specific to winter. They crop up with health hazards all year long. But, again, they kind of go hand in hand with that wonderful fireplace ambiance, so we do see them being lit more during the winter.
Let’s start with one of the less-talked-about hazards. It’s not all about heater temperatures in the winter. Did you know that, if you’re not buying candles made with natural products, then you could be breathing countless harmful chemicals into your lungs?
Consider beeswax candles. They’re not only natural and clean, but they’re also reported to release negative ions into the air that neutralize pollutants.
Then, there are the hazards that are akin to space heaters. You never want your candles to be placed near paper, bedding, or blankets. This could instantly start a fire. You also don’t want to position them in places where they can easily be knocked over.
Also, depending on the volume of candles you burn, they could be clogging up your HVAC system. We had a client who loved to burn her candles, and rightly so! Whatever makes you happy.
However, she burned so many so often, that it turned her air filter black and negatively impacted the air quality of her home. So, be sure to keep an eye on your filter as you enjoy those ambiance-filled nights.
Winter Heating Safety for You
And there you have it! A well-maintained HVAC system is surely your best bet for the coldest winter months. But, if you do plan on using supplemental heating sources, please do so with caution and try to adhere to these winter heating safety tips.
We encourage you to establish a seasonal HVAC maintenance program. This is precisely the kind of thing that can prevent ducts from getting clogged and, heaven forbid, carbon monoxide from entering your home.
Here at Florida Heat & Air, we have experience tackling a huge range of heating needs for homeowners throughout the Fort Myers area. Please, don’t hesitate to contact us today to improve your unit’s performance. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.