As temperatures cool and winter approaches, it’s important to ensure that your home-heating appliances are properly maintained so that you and your family aren’t vulnerable to any health and safety hazards—and that your gas bill isn't inordinately high.
That’s the advice of the Southern California Gas Company, which supplies gas to the region and recently offered home-heating safety tips to members of the media at a home in Eagle Rock.
An energy technician from the utility demonstrated a set of safety tips and procedures that enhance the efficiency of home-heating gas appliances. Among them:
• Natural gas furnaces should be kept free of dirt, lint and obstructions, especially around the burner compartment, by cleaning them at least twice a year—ideally before winter and then again before summer. SoCalGas company technicians are happy to do this free of cost if you make an appointment—click here to do so online. (You may need to call a licensed heating contractor if your furnace is too dirty.)
• If you open the front panel of a furnace for any reason, such as while installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, make sure that the panel door is snug and tightly secured when you screw it back. Failure to do so could result in carbon-monoxide build-up.
• Ensure that the flame in your furnace or “forced-air unit” wall furnace has a blue rather than yellow color—and that the flame is not large and unsteady, nor impinged by any object. Yellow flames produce soot, which potentially plugs up the ventilation system, causing waste particles to be dispersed inside the house.
• Using gas heaters that don't have a vent is dangerous, not to mention a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
• Check air filters in furnaces at least once a month to ensure that they aren’t too dirty. (See the attached video for the difference between a clean and dirty filter.) Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before it is heated and circulated. Check these filters monthly during the heating season and clean or replace them when necessary.
• Set the temperature on the thermostat of house-heating furnaces at 68 degrees, which is the optimum temperature for both maintaining heat in the house as well as saving energy. (Using a programmable thermostat, which allows the furnace to fire up at a given time of the day at a certain temperature, is a good idea.)