A wise woman once said, “Don’t learn safety by accident.” That is sage advice. At the start of a new year, many homeowners set aside time to assess the safety of their household surroundings and systems – such as electrical, plumbing and HVAC. You can never be too cautious. Even simple kitchen appliances routinely cause accidents. It’s crucial to ABC (Always Be Careful), have a plan in place when accidents happen and review safety precautions with family members.
Though air conditioners are not thought of as especially dangerous, they are powered by electricity and have many moving parts. Gas furnaces and electric heaters present challenges of their own. Statistics on unintentional home injuries are sobering. At the end of the day, the goal of all homeowners should be the safety and security of everyone who resides or visits. Here are a few safety tips with an emphasis on HVAC.
Safety Rule #1: Let Professionals Handle Complicated HVAC Repairs
Air conditioners are a big deal in Arizona. Let face it. We couldn’t really survive summer without our reliable AC units. However, when air conditioners break down, it’s important to note that most of the repairs required have to do with electrical issues. Electric shocks and fires caused by faulty wiring are, unfortunately, two of the more common accidents associated with home incidents. You may be a great DIY expert. However, please don’t venture into unfamiliar territory. Once you open up your air conditioner and start handling wires and removing parts, it’s easy to get in over your head. Touching the wrong wire or connecting wires incorrectly can have shockingly negative results.
Safety Rule #2: Know your limitations and call an expert to handle complex HVAC issues.
Here are other safety issues associated with your HVAC system:
- Gas Furnace – Carbon Monoxide – A byproduct of burning fossil fuel in your furnace is the release of carbon monoxide gas which can be dangerous (even fatal) to you and your family if the exhaust is not properly vented. A thorough HVAC inspection by one of our service technicians includes a close examination of your furnace’s heat exchanger and flue pipe which are responsible for ensuring carbon monoxide is properly vented outside of your home. If your furnace has not been inspected for a long time, or if you have any indication that there may be a problem (for instance, if you smell gas when you are standing near your furnace) it is imperative that you have it checked out immediately.
- Wiring, Normal Wear and Tear – Electrical Issues – Air conditioners are made up of numerous motors, fans, condensers, capacitors and other parts which are connected with intricate wiring and powered by electricity. It’s important to note that simple wear and tear, especially in Arizona, where air conditioning units operate full tilt for months at a time, can render certain electrical parts susceptible to failure. Also, many air conditioners are located on rooftops which means they are vulnerable to lightning and the elements during intense storms. The point is, your air conditioner may be in solid overall shape but still experience a significant electrical failure. Twice yearly service inspections, in spring and fall, are the best way to ensure that unseen problems with frayed wires or faulty parts are detected and remedied immediately.
- Furnace and Portable Electric Heater Guidelines – It’s winter in Arizona. Furnace safety means clearing clutter from the area around your furnace and making sure there are no obstructions around any vents. A furnace should not be used as a shelf or for storage. Nothing flammable, such as paint thinner or chemicals, should be anywhere near a furnace. Hanging wet clothes to dry on or near the furnace is dangerous. The furnace should not be dusty or dirty. Dirt can clog the gas jets and that, in turn, can be hazardous. Portable heaters are often used to augment heating in Arizona homes but are, unfortunately, the cause of many accidents throughout the United States every year. Never plug a space heater into a power strip. Always plug directly into the wall outlet. Make sure it is the only device plugged in an electrical outlet. Place your portable heater on a flat area, with nothing too close by and near the outlet, so no one can trip over the wire or knock over the heater. Never fall asleep with the portable heater on or unattended.
Home safety is a subject that families should routinely research and discuss. HVAC safety is a subject close to our hearts. However, overall home safety requires everyone in the family to do their part. We cannot stress enough – there is a generally held notion that most people believe accidents are something that happen to other families and will never happen to us. Don’t learn safety by accident. Be alert and attentive and always remember to put safety first.