As you clear the snow from your property (e.g. driveways, sidewalks, etc.), we urge you to remember to also clear snow and ice from your furnace and appliance vents, chimneys, and gas and electric meters. Your outdoor gas meter and ventilation equipment are built to endure harsh winter conditions. However, the accumulation of heavy or hard-packed snow and ice on the meter or external fuel-burning equipment exhaust vents can pose a significant safety risk. This can lead to obstructed airflow, potentially causing damage to the meter and threatening your safety.

Unobstructed airflow is essential for the safe operation of gas furnaces and appliances. Blocked vents may result in the release of toxic fumes and the dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide inside your home. It’s crucial to prevent these hazards and to ensure the safe operation of your gas furnaces and appliances, and potential carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Here are some tips to keep you safe and warm:

  • Carefully clear snow away from rooftop chimneys, especially on mobile homes, by using a snow rake.
  • Ensure the fresh air intake pipes and all exhaust vents (see example images below) are free from drifting snow to prevent obstructions and improper operation. If you allow snow and ice to go unchecked, it become compacted and freeze, causing damage.
  • Remove snow around fuel tanks, meters, and vents by hand, not with a shovel or power snow removal equipment. (Sometimes a powerful leaf blower can do the trick!)
  • Always start your (gas-powered) snowblower and (fuel-powered) vehicles outside your garage to prevent CO poisoning as they both release harmful exhaust fumes.
  • Operate gas-powered generators outside at all times and ensure the exhaust is clear of snow or other obstructions. The exhaust from this equipment can build up quickly.

Things to keep in mind about carbon monoxide:

Carbon monoxide, known as the silent killer, is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. The signs someone has been poisoned are similar to those of the flu and include headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, and stinging/burning of the eyes. We recommend having a working CO detector in your house to alert you to its presence and potential danger. Ensure your detectors have back-up batteries so they remain operational if the power goes out. Place them on every floor of your home, outside sleeping areas, and near any fuel-burning appliance or equipment.

At Wm. T. Spaeder, we are committed to ensuring your safety and comfort during the winter months. If you need any assistance or have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. For prompt assistance, contact us at (814) 456.7014. We are available 24/7 and ready to provide support at any time.

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