12 Tips to Stay Warm this Winter
21 Jan 2016
POSTED BY: Admin | Comments: 0


By: Don Epp

January is typically the coldest month of the year.  Staying warm is a challenge at times so it is important that extra care is taken to ensure that heating sources are working properly and do not get too hot. 

One place to look for ways to improve heating systems is outside.  Start by doing a quick inspection around the exterior of the house and look at the following items:

  1. Observe the roof – are all the vents and chimneys free of ice and snow? Does the chimney have a cap on it to prevent snow from going down the pipe?   
  2. Inspect the air intake vent for your furnace or furnace room and make sure it is free of any blockage. 
  3. Check the dryer vent too; ensure that the flapper moves freely and that there is not too much lint in the pipes.  Increased drying time is a sign of a vent with restricted flow.  If you do a lot of laundry it is a good idea to have the dryer vent pipe cleaned professionally on an annual basis.
  4. Use only exterior rated extension cords when plugging in a block heater in a vehicle. Cord ends should also be out of the snow to prevent moisture from causing a short. Be mindful not to overload the extension cord or outlet.
  5. Check all exit doors and keep them free of snow and ice so they can open fully.
  6. If you have a fire hydrant nearby keep it free from snow so that fire fighters can easily access it in an emergency.

There are also a few inspections on the inside of the house to confirm that all heating systems are working as intended. On really cold days the furnace (or boiler) is working overtime so it needs to be in good working order or it may go on strike!

  1. Check the furnace area, replace the filter as needed and look at the exhaust vent pipes and look for corrosion or holes.  Check the walls where the chimney pipe goes up through the walls and look for discoloration on the walls or feel for excessive heat.  Keep the area around the furnace and hot water heater clear of debris.  Call a technician if there is a problem with the exhaust pipes.
  2. Keep floor heating vents and return air vents clear so that there is good circulation of air.
  3. Monitor condensation on your windows and wipe up puddles of water on the window sills as needed.
  4. Do not use the oven to heat the kitchen; it is not designed for that purpose.
  5. If you have electric baseboard heat it is very important to keep the area around the heater clear.  This type of heater can get hot enough to melt plastic and start fires.  Heaters that use hot water do not get hot enough to cause damage, but need room to circulate the heat.
  6. Portable electric heaters are well known for causing fires. Following these tips can limit the fire risk from portable electric heaters. 
    • Heaters must be CSA/ULC approved and equipped with a “tip-over” switch so that the unit switches off if it is inadvertently tipped over.
    • The heater should be on a hard surface and about a meter away from any combustible material. A space heater needs space!
    • The heater should not be used with an extension cord or have the cord interfere with access to doorways or exits.
    • Unplug heaters when the room is vacated or when people go to sleep.
    • Like all electrical appliances keep it away from water.

Stay warm and safe this winter by following these few safety tips.

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