Stay Warming During A Nasty Blizzard: Last-Minute Furnace Tips

29 May 2015
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For many Americans, winter means cold toes, icy sidewalks and snow – lots and lots of snow. In preparation for the expected snowfall, you've taken the time to stock your pantry with nonperishable foods and bottled water. However, while you purchased supplies for your pets and family, did you take the time to prepare your furnace? If a blizzard is in the forecast, here are a few quick and simple ways you can get your furnace ready for all that snow:

Getting Your Furnace Ready

A blizzard is eminent, which means there's a chance you'll be stuck in your home for several days – and it won't be too comfortable if you're furnace decides to quit. Unfortunately, most furnaces won't operate if the power goes out, but this isn't the only danger your HVAC system faces.

Here are a few simple ways you can care for your furnace that will help prevent an unnecessary breakdown – or fire:

  • Watch the Exterior Exhaust – During a storm, snow can drift toward the side of your home, blocking the exterior exhaust. Your furnace draws air from the outdoors through this exhaust, meaning if it is blocked, the unit can't work properly. Prior to the storm, locate the exterior exhaust vent and remove any debris that is blocking it. Checking the vent periodically during the storm and clearing away any snow will help ensure it works properly, as well.

  • Make Sure the Tank is Full – If you have an oil furnace, take a quick look to ensure you have plenty of fuel to last through the storm. Filling up the tank prior to the storm will help ensure you don't run out, leaving you stuck with a cold house  and waiting for the technician to reach your home.

  • Keep It Clean – Unfortunately, despite all your best efforts, there is still a chance your furnace will fail simply because the power goes out. To prepare for this, cranking up the heat at the beginning of the blizzard will help raise the temperature in your home, which will help keep you warmer, longer. If you plan to turn up the heat, make sure there isn't anything flammable near your furnace, such as old cardboard boxes, which might catch on fire while the unit is constantly running.

Your furnace will be working overtime during a blizzard – and all winter long – so it's important to make sure it's running properly long before the first snowflakes fall. In addition to having your furnace and entire HVAC system inspected by a professional in the autumn, there are a few simple things you can do to help the system run better, including changing the filter once-a-month.

Staying Safe and Warm If the Furnace Fails

The blizzard is raging, and you're thankful for your warm house, plenty of movies and your family. Unfortunately, all of this bliss is interrupted by a furnace failure or power outage. It's vital for your family and pets to stay warm, but you must do so safely.

For example, if your furnace quits and you decide to pull out the space heaters, the Consumer Product Safety Commissions urges homeowners to never leave the unit unattended and to keep them at least three feet away from furniture, pets and people. In addition, it's vital to only use a unit that is rated for indoor use.

If the power goes out, putting on plenty of layers, huddling with your family under a few blankets and sipping hot cocoa are a few of the best ways to stay warm. To avoid a possible fire or exposure to carbon monoxide, it's vital to never use your outdoor grill or an outdoor space heater, or set a fire in the middle of your kitchen, in order to stay warm.

Once the roads are safe enough for travel, consider staying with a friend or in a hotel until the power is restored.

It's impossible to control when Mother Nature will decide to dump a few feet of snow, but there are a few ways to ensure your furnace is running smoothly and you're able to stay warm and safe while the storm rages outside.  For more tips on making sure your furnace is ready for the winter, work with an experienced furnace repair company like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy