If you ever experience a furnace outage, you can pretty much count on one thing: It will happen at the most inconvenient, least-comfortable time. Loss of heating can be the result of a local utility failure, or it can be due to a malfunction with the furnace itself. In average winter weather, the typical house can retain acceptable heat for 8 to 12 hours during a furnace outage. Meanwhile, you’ll need to take certain precautions to keep both your home and its occupants safe, such as:
- Just to make sure: Check the furnace thermostat. Confirm that the thermostat control is in the “On” position and set to “Heat” and that the temperature setting is a typical winter indoor temperature of between 68 and 72 degrees.
- Keep all exterior doors shut as much as possible. If you can feel cold outdoor air seeping in underneath the doors, use towels to block the flow of air.
- Radiant heat loss through glass windows is considerable in cold weather. Close drapes on all your windows to conserve indoor warmth.
- Use alternate heat sources such as portable space heaters. Follow all of the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. Keep units at least 3 feet from anything flammable on all sides and make sure an adult is always present in the room when the heater’s running.
- As the structure of an unheated house chills, water pipes may be more likely to freeze. Open faucets to a slow, steady drip to keep water moving through pipes and prevent freezing during a furnace outage.
- Add layers of clothing to retain body heat. Stay ahead of heat loss by putting on additional clothing before indoor temperatures decline excessively.
- Light the fireplace if you’ve had a fireplace and chimney inspection by a qualified professional in the past year.
- You may be tempted to start the car and run the heater to warm up, but NEVER run any vehicle inside a garage. Also, do not bring camping stoves, gas-fired patio heaters, charcoal grills, or other portable units inside the house. All these options produce deadly carbon monoxide.
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