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8 tips for safely performing furnace, fireplace inspections

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ID:	11411Here are eight top safety tips and suggestions for performing your own furnace and fireplace inspections.

1. If the fossil-fueled furnace is more than 10 years old, the furnace needs to be inspected and serviced by a qualified (licensed where required) heating/venting/air-conditioning (HVAC) contractor. The heat exchanger should be checked for cracks, and the burners need to be cleaned and adjusted. The contractor may also check the pressure sensors and valves, as well as the rollout and high-temperature sensors.

2. An electric furnace should be checked on the emergency heat cycle to ensure the furnace is operating properly. Weather permitting, the heat pump can be checked on the heat cycle to ensure proper operation. The heat pump may work on the cooling cycle, but when switched to heating, the reversing valve could fail. Generally, the outside temperature should be below 60 degrees to safely operate the heat pump on the heat cycle.

3. Change all furnace filters on a regular basis, depending on the type of filter used and the amount of dust collected. This is generally once every three to four months. Keep a record of the dates the filter was changed and attach it to the furnace cabinet.

4. Vacuum the floor registers in each room. Dirt and debris can affect the amount of air each register delivers to the room. Do not extend the hose too far into the register because the ducts to the register could be damaged by the vacuum hose.

5. Inspect the metal flue from the furnace to ensure it is not rusted or damaged. The flue should also have a positive rise from the furnace all the way to the chimney. If the furnace has a draft-induced fan, make sure the flue, if any, from the water heater vents above the furnace flue at the chimney connector.

6. A high-efficiency furnace will vent through a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe. The PVC pipe should have a negative rise so condensation that collects in the flue will drain back into the furnace. The end of the flue should be at least 1 foot above the ground or 7 feet above a walk. The flue cannot vent under a window or the overhang of the roof and cannot be closer than 3 feet to a gas meter.

7. In all cases, a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove’s chimney and liner should be cleaned and inspected twice each heating season. The work should be performed by a certified chimney sweep. Fireplaces with vented gas logs should have a damper clip installed to ensure the damper is slightly opened to protect against accidental gas leaks.

8. The fireplace flue needs to be a minimum of 3 feet above the roof on the gable end of the home or at least 2 feet above any angled roof area that is within 10 feet of the flue when measured horizontally.

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HVAC

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