An Emergency Can Happen At Any Time - Being Prepared Is Key
The last thing any homeowner wants during the frigid winter months is for their heater to go on the fritz. Unfortunately, it’s during these months that most heater and furnace failures occur - often without warning. But beyond the discomfort and frustration that comes with the house getting colder by the minute, some heater emergencies can be downright dangerous.
On top of making sure their HVAC company is reliable and available for emergency service calls, every homeowner should prepare for the possibility of an unexpected heating crisis. Knowing what to do in such circumstances can keep a bad situation from becoming worse.
What Qualifies As a Heating Emergency?
Any heater issue is inconvenient, but not every issue constitutes an emergency - if the thermostat batteries simply need replacing, or the furnace circuit breaker tripped, for instance. These are easy fixes. However, if the furnace quits working altogether, the weather alone can create an emergency. During the coldest days of winter, whether it’s day or night, it won’t take long for the home’s internal temperature to drop to unsafe levels and pose a severe health risk.
Both gas and electric furnaces may present a fire hazard if certain components malfunction - loose wires, a faulty heating element, a clogged exhaust vent, etc. If the heater is emitting smoke or the smell of burning rubber or plastic, it should be shut off immediately, and a repair service called. Not only is a gas leak or faulty pilot light a fire risk, but it can also lead to carbon monoxide or natural gas poisoning. In addition, loud noises such as banging and screeching mean something is very wrong, and the furnace needs urgent professional attention.
What To Do While Awaiting the Technician’s Arrival
The first thing to do in the event of a furnace or heater emergency is to shut off power to the unit via the breaker box. If there’s evidence of a gas leak, or a leak is even suspected, everyone should leave the house without a moment’s hesitation, and the doors should be left open for ventilation. The family should take shelter in a running vehicle (away from the house) or with a neighbor to stay warm until the technician arrives.
In other emergencies that don’t involve gas, the goal is simply to stay warm however possible. The whole family should bundle up with blankets and warm clothing and gather in one well-insulated room around a localized heat source like a fireplace or portable space heater.
How To Prevent Future Emergencies
It’s good to know how to handle a furnace breakdown properly, but it’s much better to avoid such a scenario in the first place. The best way to accomplish this is to make sure the heater stays in good shape, which means routine visits from a professional to perform maintenance, cleaning, and safety inspections. Additionally, homeowners with older heating systems may want to look into updating their unit, as aging furnaces are much more likely to develop unforeseen issues and break down in the throes of winter.
About Garneski Air Conditioning & Heating
Sterling, Virginia’s Garneski Air Conditioning & Heating is a family-owned and operated business. Since they formed in 1980, their superior work and customer service have earned them an A+ BBB rating, numerous awards, accolades, and even the nickname for their founder, “Mr. Indoor Comfort.” They offer flat-rate pricing, 24/7 emergency heater service in Sterling, plus financing, and a money-saving member maintenance plan.