Heat’s Off – Now What?

It’s the dead of winter and you are totally relying on your furnace to keep you warm and comfortable during the cold of the season.

But what happens when you suddenly discover your furnace is not working? Chances are good it won’t happen at a convenient time, either — it’ll be most likely in the middle of a frosty night, rather than
during a sunny day during a warm stretch, so you probably won’t be able to check on the problem at a leisurely, relaxed pace. You’ll need to get that heat back on pronto.

If it’s not an electrical outage and you have supplemental electric heating, crank that up to keep as much as possible of the home warm. Light the fireplace if you have one, making sure the flue is open for
adequate ventilation. Close your curtains and cover any openings under the doors with towels or blankets to conserve the heat and keep it inside the home. Keep everybody together in the warm part of the home until the heat is back on.

Pay special attention to the pipes carrying water around the house — you will have a bigger crisis if they freeze, so open the cabinet doors under your sinks to allow the warm air to get to the pipes and
hang a towel on the wall behind the sink to insulate the pipes from the cold. Turn on all of your faucets so they drip continually — that keeps the water flowing inside and prevents an ice buildup. Wrap bare pipes with insulation, or even old newspapers, and cover them with plastic to keep out moisture. If there are rooms that don’t have any pipes, close them off to keep the heat elsewhere where you really need it.

Now that the precautionary considerations are out of the way, inspect the reason why the heat is off. Is there a regional power outage, or is the problem isolated to your home? Hopefully, you’ve taken the
chance to review your heating system before the emergency to know how to check it when the power goes out, but if not here are some general pointers. Check first that the thermostat hasn’t somehow been turned down too low. That will be the easiest thing to fix, although, unfortunately, not all that likely to be the culprit.

If it is a steam heating system, turn off the unit. Check the water level in the boiler and add water slowly if it is low. In a forced air heating system reset the circuit breaker if it is tripped. In hot
water systems, check that all temperature and pressure gauges are set to normal and clear system of excess air. In a gas furnace, check that the pilot light is on and relight if necessary.

Don’t wait for a heat emergency to strike — review your own unit and prepare for the situation before it happens, because you know it’ll be in the dead of night during a nasty cold snap. For expert information on avoiding a winter heating crisis, call A & J Installation at 845-357-0275 or email [email protected].

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