African family eating holiday dinner

With the excitement of everyone being home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, there is also an increase in risk for house fires. Holiday decorations, candles, blocked vents, poor electrical connections, dirty air filters … the list goes on.

So, before you decorate your home this year, be sure to review this HVAC Fire Safety Checklist.

HVAC’s and related equipment are leading causes in structure fires due to lack of proper maintenance. As temperatures drop and use of heating systems rise, any debris, dirt or dust build up in your ducts could possibly spark a flame.

This can be easily prevented with a seasonal tune-up to your home unit. Scheduled tune-ups are the most proactive way to stop costly and hazardous problems from forming in your system, because “out of sight, out of mind,” right?

When you turn on the heat for the first time in few months, do you notice a smell coming from your air vents? That scent is caused by the burning off of dust and debris particles in your air ducts as hot air starts to circulate through your home.

Do you ever hear clicking, clanging, squealing, or even gurgling noises coming from your unit? Any of these noises can be the result of an electrical issue, an obstruction in the fan, a damaged fan belt, faulty bearings, or a high-pressure buildup in your system.

You can also check your home for other electrical and heating dangers by doing the following:

• Installing tamper-proof receptacles on outlets.

• Keeping cords out of reach from children or animals.

• Inspecting switches, plug, electrical cords and outlets for exposed or burnt wires.

• Moving cords or wires from high traffic areas like in the living room or kitchen.

• Removing electronics from overloaded outlets and adding an extension cord.

Be sure your family has an emergency exit plan in case of fire. Review several escape routes and practice using them with the entire family, highlighting all windows and doors. Practice makes perfect, and what better time than the holiday season to get the family back together to practice fire safety.

Dave Miller, owner of Superior Services, has been servicing HVAC systems for more than 20 years in the Bluffton and Hilton Head island area.