5 furnace room safety tips

Down in the depths of your basement, where barely a sliver of outside light ever reaches, is the furnace room – one of the most neglected and underappreciated rooms in your house. Despite it being out of sight and out of mind most days of the year, furnace rooms house vital equipment that, should it be neglected or malfunction, can pose a serious threat to your safety.

In our 50 years keeping families comfortable, we’ve learned a thing or two, especially when it comes to taking care of and maintaining furnaces. This month, we share tips in 5 key areas to help keep your furnace room in tip top shape.

Infographic shows five furnace room safety tips with graphics from left to right. Image one is a furnace with an arrow going around it and the copy reads, make space for proper ventilation. Image two has graphics of laundry products with a red circle and line across them. The text reads, store cleaning and laundry products elsewhere to prevent fumes and odours from circulating throughout your home. Image three shows a dustpan and brush and the text is keep your furnace area free of dust and debris by cleaning around it regularly. Image four has a light bulb that is on and text is ensure there is adequate lighting to make walking around your furnace room hazard free. Image five is of a vent and tools and text is schedule regular tune-ups.

1. Ventilate and make space

  • Furnaces and hot water heaters are powered by electricity or fuels like oil, propane or natural gas, so it’s important that there’s enough space for proper ventilation – as well as maintenance or emergency repair work.
  • Keep the furnace room floors and the area around furnace equipment free of debris.
  • Clear away any boxes or suitcases from around air intakes or vents.
  • Don’t lean anything against the furnace or water heater.
  • Don’t leave used filters or old furnace parts lying around.

2. Store elsewhere

  • Don’t place kitty litter near your furnace – ammonia fumes from the litter can corrode the furnace heat exchanger and odours can circulate throughout your home.
  • Don’t keep cleaning or laundry products in your furnace room – wherever they’re stored, make sure they’re in airtight containers.

3. Safety first

  • Never leave any combustibles in the furnace room. Don’t store anything near your furnace that’s combustible at low flash points – like gasoline, paint and paint thinners.
  • Always keep the area free of dust and debris – vacuum and clean around your furnace and water heater tank to prevent dust buildup.
  • If your furnace room or area doubles as a laundry space, don’t hang laundry or a clothesline from your equipment – it’s a major fire hazard and reduces airflow.
  • Schedule regular maintenance to make sure everything is in perfect working order.

4. Lighting

  • In an emergency, or even for a regular inspection, burnt light bulbs and low lighting can make walking around your furnace room hazardous.
  • Make sure broken bulbs are replaced and always have a flashlight available.

5. Maintenance

  • It’s always better to be safe than sorry – replace your furnace filter regularly, as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Leave yourself reminders in your kitchen or smartphone calendar.
  • Look for rust spots on or around your furnace – it could be a sign of an issue in need of repair.
  • Listen for unusual noises like popping or rattling – if you hear anything, call Reliance right away.
  • Schedule tune-ups on a regular basis.

To learn more, be sure to visit our Ultimate Furnace Guide!

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