When it’s this cold, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases.
Homeowners must be vigilant about carbon monoxide hazards throughout the year. But winter brings a unique safety concern tied to high-efficiency furnaces. With the extreme negative temps we are experiencing in Minneapolis and throughout all Minnesota, we need to be ultra mindful of many things. One of those being high-efficiency furnaces.
Very efficient furnaces pose a specific CO threat in winter. Their manufacturers use a unique venting and sealed combustion system that has a sidewall vent not seen with standard furnaces. If you make sure such sidewall venting is clear of snow or ice, it will continue to provide a secure way for CO to escape the house. That means you and your family should remain safe.
When it snows or ice forms on the vents, they can become clogged. When the CO is blocked from getting out, it can be pushed back into your home and could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
After a snowstorm or ice storm, or when the temperatures are extremely low like they are now, you should go out and visually inspect the vents. Keeping them clear will help avoid CO poisoning.
If there’s a lot of snow, clear a path of 2 to 3 feet around each vent. If you see ice forming on the vents, gently knock it off without damaging the pipes.
In the late fall, take off the exhaust vent’s screen, which is designed to keep debris from entering or exiting the vent. The screen makes it easy for ice to hang on, which lets more ice and snow build up and create a larger blockage.
Do not run a gas-powered stove to provide heat when the power goes out. That leads to a buildup of CO, which raises the risk of poisoning. Also check them monthly to ensure they’re working. Schedule annual HVAC service for your furnace, including inspecting the venting system and combustion process. Set service appointments for all natural-gas appliances to prevent CO hazards.
Stay warm and stay safe Minnesota!