Home Heating Dangers And Risks: What To Avoid
November 12, 2022
Most homeowners don’t give a second thought to their home heating systems. For many, it’s enough to press a switch, turn a dial, and bask in the warmth from the vents.
But as innocuous as they might seem, using residential heating systems entails some risk. Fires are among the most common hazards, but there are many other dangerous situations to guard against.
It is estimated that 16% of all residential fires in the U.S. and 20% to 25% worldwide are caused by home heating systems. The actual figures may be even higher, considering that over 50% of residential fires aren’t attributable to an identifiable cause.
Common Home Heating Hazards To Avoid
The coming of autumn and winter merely highlights the importance of being aware of the risks involved in using residential heating. Here are some things to be on guard against if you want to avoid property damage, personal injury, and the loss of lives:
Improperly Installed Space Heaters
Space heaters are still widely used in many homes. Unfortunately, they are common fire hazards, causing property damage, injuries, and even deaths. Most problems related to space heaters are caused by insufficient space around them and contact with flammable materials. They also tip over fairly easily, leading to overheating and fires.
Chimneys can become dirty and blocked over time, posing a serious health risk and fire hazard. If the blockage is left unaddressed for an extended period, the creosote buildup in the interior walls of the chimney could catch fire and possibly even cause an explosion. Periodic inspection and cleaning can prevent this from happening.
Damaged Electrical Systems
Frayed and corroded wires and damaged components can cause electrical fires. It is important to check heating elements, thermostats, furnaces, and power supplies regularly for signs of wear and tear and to replace them if damaged. The problem can be even more severe when the electrical system is connected to fuel and gas lines.
Heating systems rely on vents to draw cold air and expel warm air. This is how they maintain a home’s comfortable temperature. But if the vents are blocked‒either by dust, furniture, or debris‒the hot air cannot escape. This could cause the system to overheat and possibly result in a fire.
Neglected Or Unsupervised Heating Equipment
As mentioned earlier, most people are accustomed to running their heating equipment for long periods without monitoring or even checking on them. While this won’t necessarily cause a fire, many accidents can be prevented by supervising these systems from time to time.
Any heating equipment that uses gas or oil poses a fire risk. Worn and damaged lines can leak, causing flammable substances to escape into the rest of the home.
Remember that natural gas is typically colorless and odorless. Gas companies usually add chemicals to give it an unpleasant odor so leaks can be detected more easily. Even so, it may be difficult to detect the presence of gas until it has built up to a substantial and dangerous amount.
Damaged Water Heating Systems
Water heating systems can cause severe burns because they use water and steam to keep the temperature high. The problem is that impurities and acidic compounds can accumulate in the water and eventually damage the components. This could lead to leaks, escaping steam, and system failure.
Carbon Monoxide Leaks
Carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home can be lethal, especially in enclosed spaces. The risk is further heightened because CO is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. You can avoid problems related to CO exposure by clearing obstructions from pipes and chimneys and investing in a CO monitor.
Exposure to open flames and hot objects can cause burns and serious injuries. Direct heat sources are especially risky, as they often have large hot surfaces that are easy to come into contact with. Avoid going too near fireplaces, wood and pellet stoves, fireplaces, and other direct heat sources.
Allergic reactions aren’t necessarily life-threatening, but they can be. Older people and those with respiratory conditions are prone to serious health problems when exposed to dust. Unfortunately, this is a common issue with many heating systems, in which dust particles and other debris tend to build up during the warmer months.
Your Home Heating And J.A. Bertsch
All these scenarios aren’t meant to dissuade you from using residential heating. Modern systems are generally safe, and preventive maintenance and periodic monitoring should help minimize the risk. Nevertheless, knowing what could go wrong when a heating system malfunctions is helpful so you can address minor problems before they worsen.
Licensed Electricians with J.A. Bertsch!
JA Bertsch is proud to have a team of licensed electricians who are experts when it comes to all your electrical needs. Our team is comprised of highly trained and qualified professionals who specialize in installing, repairing, and maintaining lights, wiring, and electrical systems for both residential and commercial properties. Whether you need to install new lighting fixtures or upgrade existing wiring for safety reasons, our team can help!
J.A. Bertsch Heating & Cooling offers professional residential air conditioning services throughout Kootenai County. Our licensed A/C technicians cover all of North Idaho and our neighboring cities. Experience superior, award-winning service 24/7. Call us at 208-635-5480 to schedule an appointment.