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Home heating maintenance tips
It's very important to make sure your manufactured home furnace operates safely and efficiently during winter weather. You can perform many routine furnace maintenance jobs, while other procedures are best handled by a qualified repair person. Most furnace manufacturers recommend a professional inspection of fuel lines, safety controls, burner and flue pipe every year. Your utility company may provide a free inspection.
You should replace disposable furnace filters regularly. Remove and wash, brush or vacuum permanent filters. Remove the cover of the thermostat and vacuum away dust and dirt. Check the exhaust vent from furnace. Clear obstructions like leaves or animal nests from the vent pipe. Keep roof exhaust vents clear of excess snow build-up.
Inspect blower motor. Vacuum any accumulated dirt. Inspect V-belt and pulleys for wear. If the belt moves more than an inch when you push it, tighten it. Check air intake. Most manufactured home furnaces draw combustion air from beneath the home, so keep four to six vents in the skirting to allow free air passage.
Check flue assembly for alignment and rigidity. It should run in a straight line from the top of furnace through the ceiling. Be sure the flue is attached to the furnace collar. Check to make sure there is no loose wiring near the flue. If there is wiring in the flue area, move and secure it well away from the flue pipe.
Carpeting in furnace compartment should be removed and replaced with fireproof material. Some manufactured home furnaces have wire mesh in front of the stack to prevent storage on top of the furnace. If this mesh is missing, replace it.
Clean out debris in furnace area, and don't allow even small amounts to accumulate. Never use your furnace closet for storage or drying clothes. This is a fire hazard.
CAUTION!: Never attempt to repair gas lines in your manufactured home. If you smell gas, call a repair person or your gas company immediately.
In addition to your furnace check you should also properly maintain your space heater, fireplace or wood stove. Both electric and liquid fuel-powered space heaters must be placed at least 36 inches away from anything combustible. If you have a liquid fuel-powered space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel. When refueling, always turn off the heater and wait until it cools down before adding fuel.
Have your fireplace chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional every winter. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if the chimney is not properly cleaned. Always protect your home and family by using a sturdy fireplace screen when burning wood. Remember to burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs or coal. These can float out the chimney and ignite your roof.
Chimney connections and chimney flues on wood stoves should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned periodically. Remove ashes as they accumulate, and be sure to follow any additional maintenance instructions provided by the wood stove manufacturer. Burn only wood and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved, fire-resistant surface to protect the floor of your manufactured home from heat and hot coals.
Play it safe and observe proper maintenance and safety rules before starting your furnace, space heater, fireplace or wood stove this winter.
Finally, don't forget to check your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. Keep one fire extinguisher in the kitchen and another near the furnace. Use a multiple-purpose dry chemical extinguisher suitable for use on Class A, B and C fires. Small home fire extinguishers operate only five to ten seconds, so take careful aim before using. Test your smoke detectors often to be sure they're operational, and replace batteries before the weather gets cold. You should have one detector located high on the wall or ceiling adjacent to your bedroom areas and another in the kitchen.
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