Keep Your Vents Clear All Winter!
Important safety reminders for your high-efficiency furnace
Rule number one of furnace ownership is always clear your vents when it snows.
Living in New England, you’re certainly no stranger to shoveling snow. You know you need to clear your walkways and driveways of snow and ice to keep you, your family, and visitors safe. It’s also extremely important for the safety of your household that you pay attention to your furnace’s exhaust vents and intake pipes and keep them clear of snow.
Why Keep Vents and Intake Pipes Clear?
There are two main reasons to keep your intake pipes and exhaust vents clear:
- They are both critical components of your furnace that allow it to operate properly.
- If they get blocked, that can cause serious problems—everything from a system shutdown to a buildup of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can cause serious medical emergencies and even death.
To get a better appreciation of the importance of keeping your furnace’s exhaust vents and intake pipes clear, let’s review some heating system basics:
- To operate properly, a furnace needs three things: fuel, a spark, and oxygen. W.H. Riley delivers the propane or heating oil your furnace uses. And the furnace itself generates the spark.
- Especially if it’s a newer home, your heating system may need to get the oxygen it needs to keep the furnace ignited from outside the house. That’s the job of the air-intake pipe. If this pipe gets blocked by snow, your system will probably stall or shut down completely.
- When your furnace is sufficiently oxygenated, it ignites and produces heat and gases as a product of the combustion. The heat is why you have a furnace. It keeps you and your family warm. The combustion gases are an unavoidable but potentially hazardous byproduct. You don’t want them accumulating. Carbon monoxide is one such gas. And it’s especially dangerous because in addition to being extremely toxic, it’s colorless and odorless.
- When your heating system is working as it should, all those combustion gases are sent outside of your home before they can pose a danger to you and your family. That’s the job of the exhaust pipe. And that is why it’s so important that you keep it clear. If that pipe gets blocked (and snow is a formidable obstruction to many poisonous gases like carbon monoxide), then those gases won’t vent. Instead, they’ll remain in your home and put the health and lives of everyone in the home in danger.
Clearing Exhaust Vents
The experts at W.H. Riley & Son want you to be safe and comfortable in your home throughout the winter. So make sure you keep your exhaust vents clear. Here’s how to do that in three easy steps:
- Find your exhaust pipes: Go to your furnace. If your system vents through the chimney, you’ll notice an aluminum pipe coming out of the back. If your system vents through an exterior wall, you’ll find two PVC pipes coming off the top. Follow those pipes to see where they go, i.e., where the vents end up outside your home.
- Mark your vents: When you find your vents, mark their location so that you’ll still be able to find them in a lot of snow.
- Clear a space around your exhaust vents: After every snowfall (or whenever wind may have blown snow that has already fallen) use a shovel to clear any snow around your vents. Then use a broom when cleaning off the vent itself. Don’t use a shovel for this part or you’ll risk damaging your equipment.
W.H. Riley & Son provides our southeastern Massachusetts customers with competitive prices, exceptional customer service, and an exemplary safety record. Click here to see if we provide service in your southeastern MA neighborhood.
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