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Appliance & Equipment Safety

Heating & Venting

To ensure your heating and venting system is operating safely and efficiently, have a qualified contractor inspect the furnace, venting system and chimney annually.

opening up floor vent heater

Signs Your Heating System Needs Attention

  • Gas flames that are pale yellow or wavy 
  • Gas appliances that are not vented to the outdoors 
  • Rust, corrosion or excessive dust on gas appliances 
  • Excessively dirty, clogged or missing furnace air filters 
  • Gas appliance valves that are missing or not properly installed 
  • Blocked, broken, rusted, disconnected, corroded or unsealed appliance vent piping 
  • Soot near burners or appliance venting 
  • Venting not approved by the appliance manufacturer or not venting to the proper place outdoors 
  • Evidence of discoloration at the appliance burner, burner access door or vent area 
  • Gas appliances installed in a garage less than 18 inches above the garage floor 
  • Gas appliances that are missing a fire door
boiler gas heater water

Hot Water Safety

You should keep your tap water temperature set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (the "warm" or "low" setting on your water heater).

For a child or senior citizen, a tap water temperature between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is suitable. Never leave a small child alone in the tub where he or she can accidentally turn on the hot water.

How to test your water temperature:

  1. Run the hot water for five minutes. 
  2. Put a reliable thermometer that registers at least 150 degrees under the water stream. 
  3. If your water is more than 125 degrees, lower the thermostat on your water heater. If you can't find the temperature controls or have any questions, call a qualified contractor or your landlord for help.

Regular Maintenance is Required

  • Clean air filters regularly and replace as needed. 
  • Ensure furnace panels and grills are in place and that the fan compartment door is closed when the furnace is on. Leaving these doors open can cause carbon monoxide to build up. 
  • Check to see that the furnace or boiler is free of dust, rust or corrosion. 
  • Keep the space around the furnace clean and clear.

Other Important Tips

  • Never use a gas range as a space heater. Doing so can cause carbon monoxide to build-up.
  • Put space heaters on a level surface and keep them away from curtains and other flammable objects.
  • If you use a natural gas or kerosene space heater, be sure it is vented to the outside.

Appliance Connectors

Good appliance connectors are a very important part in keeping your house safe. 

Learn how to spot bad appliance connectors

Find the Right Furnace Filter

When thinking about home maintenance, your furnace filter is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But it may be time to rethink your home maintenance priorities. Furnace filters are an inexpensive and easy-to-replace item with an important purpose. Filters protect your blower fan and compressor from particles and debris that could damage your system and impact air quality in your home. There are numerous filter sizes, styles and designs to choose from, but with these tips, you’ll be able to quickly and easily pick the best filter for your unit:

Determine the right size

Most furnace filters have their size printed on them, so you can check your existing filter for the correct measurements. If you aren’t able to find the size, check the owner’s manual or website. You can also measure the current filter being used as well as the width, height and depth of the furnace filter slot. Filters normally have two sets of measurements – the “Actual size,” which include the true dimensions of the filter, and the “Nominal size”, which is the actual size rounded up to the next whole number. For example, a filter with an actual size of 19.5” x 19.5” x .75” has a nominal size of 20” x 20” x 1”. Two filters might that have the same nominal size might not necessarily have the same actual size, making it important to check the size of your insert. Take your measurements with you to ensure you’re getting the one that will best fit the available space.

Select desired benefits

Filters have different benefits based on the material that they’re made of and will have a major impact on air quality in your home. Considerations for filter materials might include how long you plan on living in your home or apartment, as well as if you or any of your family members have any medical concerns like allergies or asthma. Here’s a rundown of filter materials and their capabilities.

 

  • Disposable fiberglass – Prevents larger particles like dust and lint from clogging the system. These are the least expensive option, but can’t remove bacteria, mold, pollen or smaller particles. 
  • Disposable pleated – Removes particles like spores and mites. These are the most common filters as they allow for better air flow while filtering out common allergens and fine dust in the air. If you have asthma or allergies, this is an inexpensive but effective option. 
  • Permanent or disposable electrostatic – Attracts small particles; these filters can be washed to extend lifespan. However, while these filters are good for allergy and asthma sufferers, they are much more expensive to replace than other options. 
  • High-efficiency pleated – Removes the smallest particles. High-efficiency filters are generally designed for major health needs and are often used in commercial buildings like hospitals. However, they can restrict your airflow if your ventilation system isn’t designed to support these types of filters. Check with the manufacturer to make sure that your family stays healthy and comfortable.

Pick a price point

Filters with a higher minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating will render better air quality, but they cost more to regularly replace. MERV was developed on a scale from 1 to 16 to determine the efficiency of air filters, meaning that the higher the MERV rating, the fewer dust particles and contaminants will pass through the filter. If anyone in your home has special health needs, the investment might be necessary. Consider pets, indoor pollutants and your budget when you’re picking the right filter for you and your family. Regardless of what you choose, make sure to change and clean your filter as recommended to remain as comfortable as possible and help your furnace do its job effectively.