Furnace Fire Safety: 6 Strategies for a Safe Winter

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 20, 2024

With cool weather finally here, we all look forward to the change in seasons. As beautiful fall days bring us closer to wintertime, we enjoy a refreshing chill before the freeze. It’s time to prep the house for cold weather and make sure the furnace is ready too.

Do you have a handy list of tips for making sure your furnace operates safely this year?

When we take care of heating duct cleaning for Chicago homes, we often spot overlooked problems that can become serious hazards. It’s easy to miss the small things that make a big difference in furnace fire safety.

6 Simple Steps That Keep Your Home’s Furnace Operating Safely

How important is it to make sure the furnace is ready for winter? According to the National Fire Prevention Association, faulty heating equipment is the second leading cause of house fires.

These six simple steps can help you prevent furnace fires in your home.

1. Turn the Furnace on Now

Both electric and gas furnace safety strategies start with turning on the equipment. Leave the furnace on for at least 30 minutes so that it runs through its normal cycles. If you hear or smell anything unusual, turn the heater off.

Inspect the unit for mechanical or pilot light problems. If you’re not comfortable with DIY furnace troubleshooting, call your HVAC tech. Don’t try to keep your home warm with a furnace that’s not operating properly.

2. Create a Furnace Fire Safety Zone

Most Chicago basements serve as downstairs storage for all kinds of household belongings. No matter how well you recently picked up around the furnace, take another look. These are just a few of the materials that can become serious fire hazards near heating equipment.

  • Laundry baskets
  • Cardboard boxes and paper
  • Gasoline and other flammable fuels
  • Paint and paint thinners
  • Old cleaning rags

Power Tip: Sweep around the furnace while it’s turned off to eliminate dust buildup that affects equipment performance.

3. Give It Whole-House Breathing Room

Don’t try to lower heating bills by closing off vents and registers to a few rooms in the house. Redirecting the system’s designed airflow puts unnecessary strain on the furnace motor and blower.

Make sure wall vents and floor registers aren’t blocked by furniture or carpets. Overworked equipment wears out quickly leading to serious mechanical problems. Keep your heating system healthy and safe by giving it room to breathe.

4. Change the Furnace Filter Often

It’s so easy to forget this important maintenance job. Dirty filters make the furnace motor work harder circulating fresh air. They also add to accumulated dust and debris in ductwork that can pose a dangerous fire hazard.

If your home stays busy with family foot traffic, change the filters every few months. If you enjoy the company of four-legged best friends, take care of this quick but critical chore more often.

Power Tip: Reference your owner’s manual for your furnace’s recommended filter types. You can usually find the documentation online too.

5. Learn How to Shut Off the Gas

This is another tip that might have you looking through the furnace operating manual. If you smell gas and suspect it’s coming from the heater, you need to know how to shut off the supply. Locate the valve on your furnace, and make sure it’s in good working condition.

You should also know how to cut off your home’s main gas supply. The line is usually located along an outside wall next to the meter. Directions for shutting it off are posted on the city’s Alert Chicago web page, if you live in the Chicagoland area.

6. Let Professionals Back Up Your Work

Regular DIY furnace maintenance stands as one of your best fire safety routines, but you need backup for things you can’t take care of. A yearly inspection by your HVAC company addresses furnace repairs that might otherwise turn into serious fire hazards.

Professional air duct and furnace cleaning is very important too. HVAC technicians handle parts and replacements, but they don’t address accumulated dust and debris throughout the system. Certified duct and furnace cleaning teams add an invaluable layer of safety to furnace fire-prevention strategies.

Need Furnace Cleaning in Chicago, IL or Suburbs? We Can Help!

We hope our checklist makes your fall furnace safety routine a little easier.

Our fall routine includes expert furnace duct cleaning that keeps home heating equipment in top condition.

We want you to stay safe and warm, so give us a call here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for the best heating duct cleaning in Chicago and the suburbs: 773-647-1985