Home Heating

Home Heating

Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Half of home heating equipment fires are reported during the months of January, February and December.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, (e.g. furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater).
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home. 
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.  


An annual inspection ensures that your heating and venting systems are operating safely and efficiently. A qualified heating contractor can provide that important annual check-up. 

  • Check your furnace's flame. Flames should be mostly blue and steady. A pale yellow or wavy flame is a sign that your furnace is not working properly.
  • Check your venting system. Soft, rusted or broken vent piping can release combustion products into your home.
  • Examine your unit to ensure it is free of dust, rust or signs of corrosion.
  • Look for signs of discoloration or soot. Build-up around the burner access door and vents could indicate a problem.
  • Check air filters monthly and clean/replace them as needed.
  • Make sure that furnace panels and grills are in place and that the fan compartment door is closed when the furnace is on. Leaving these doors open could cause carbon monoxide to build up in living areas.

Fireplaces and Chimneysfireplace

Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. With proper chimney system care, chimney fires are entirely preventable. Here are some ways to avoid them:

  • Only use seasoned wood. Dryness is more important than hard wood versus soft wood considerations.
  • Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees. These items can spark a chimney fire.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures where wood stoves are in use, so you can adjust burning practices as needed.
  • Have the chimney inspected and cleaned on a regular basis.

Portable Heatersheater

Portable space heaters are a potential source of fire if not used properly. The requirements listed below, applicable code requirements, and manufacturer’s recommendations must be followed to maintain a safe environment. No open-coil space heaters are permitted in any university buildings; space heaters of any type are prohibited in laboratories. If you use a portable space heater, ensure you follow these safety tips:

  • Do not place heaters under desks or other enclosed areas.
  • Monitor when in operation. Do not use heaters in rooms that will not be continually occupied.
  • Plug heater directly into a wall receptacle. Never plug it into an extension cord.
  • Monitor daily. Heaters missing guards, control knobs, feet, etc. must be taken out of service immediately and repaired by a competent person.
  • Keep doors and windows closed, including storm windows. This will help prevent freeze-ups.
  • Keep space heaters away from exit ways, walkways and paths of travel.
  • Do not use space heaters in wet areas, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Do not use portable space heaters if small children are expected in the area.