May is Electrical Safety Month. In celebration, we’re sharing the most important HVAC electrical safety tips to keep your home and family safe from electrical fires, injuries, and even death.
Modern life depends on electricity. Normally, we don’t think about it. Simply plug in and get power. Unfortunately, this can lead to overconfidence and lack of proper safety precautions.
Electricity has the power to kill. In the US alone, there are over 51,000 electrical fires every year, accounting for nearly 500 deaths, over 1,400 injuries, and about $1.3 billion in property damage (Electrical Safety Foundation International).
HVAC systems are designed to run safely and efficiently, but sometimes accidents happen. Keep your home and family safe with our HVAC electrical safety checklist.
HVAC Electrical Safety
1. Schedule Professional HVAC Maintenance in the Fall and Spring
Have your heating system inspected in the early fall and schedule air conditioning maintenance in the early spring. This makes sure your equipment will work safely and efficiently all year long with no surprises.
In addition to preventing electrical problems, your certified HVAC technician will also clean your system and make sure there are no carbon monoxide or refrigerant leaks.
Our professional heating and cooling inspections include a thorough inspection of your HVAC’s electrical components. This includes:
- Electrical Disconnect Box – inspect for proper rating and safe installation
- Electrical Wiring – inspect and tighten connections
- Test/inspect contactors for burned, pitted contacts
- Inspect electrical for exposed wiring
- Inspect and test capacitors
- Inspect fan and blower motor
- Professional cleaning of entire system
- Safety and efficiency recommendations
Click here for our full HVAC Maintenance Checklist.
2. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Smoke and CO alarms save lives. According to ESFI, “Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke detectors.”
- Make sure you install smoke and CO detectors on every floor of the home and outside of every sleeping area.
- Test your safety alarms every 30 days and replace your batteries at least once a year.
- Replace smoke and CO alarms every 10 years (or according to manufacturer instructions).
- Learn more about smoke alarm and carbon monoxide safety.
3. Create and Practice Your Emergency Escape Plan
God forbid a fire does occur, you usually only have a few minutes to escape. Everyone in the household needs to know what do and where to go—FAST!
Here are some tips for developing your home’s emergency evacuation plan:
- Draw a map of your home, including all exits, such as windows and doors.
- Ideally, you should document 2 escape routes for each room.
- Test all doors and windows and make sure they open easily.
- Agree on one outdoor meeting spot, a safe distance from the home.
- Practice your escape route with everyone in the home twice a year, once during the daytime, once at night.
- Practice multiple ways to escape each room. Teach everyone to close doors behind them as they leave.
- If there is smoke, get down as low as you can and exit as quickly as possible.
- Call the fire department from outside the home.
Don’t forget to practice your escape plan and make any adjustments to make it as safe and foolproof as possible.
4. Teach HVAC and Electrical Safety to Children
If you haven’t already had a discussion with your young ones about how to play and behave around heating, cooling, and electrical equipment, it’s time to have the talk.
Keep your child safe from electrical and HVAC danger:
- Any exposed wires or plugs can give you an electric shock or even kill you. Conduct a basic inspection of your electrical cords, plug, outlets, and switches.
- Never run wires or extension cords under carpets, in doorways, or in any high traffic areas.
- Little outlet covers are not good enough. Install tamper-proof receptacle (TRRs) instead. Teach children never to stick anything other than electrical plugs into outlets.
- Place electrical devices and cords safely out of reach. Make sure all cords are tucked away neatly.
- Place all bathroom and kitchen electrical appliances high up and out of reach.
- Don’t overload your outlets. If you need more power, call an electrician to add more outlets or another circuit if necessary.
- Teach children never to play on or around electrical substation. If a ball or pet gets inside or too close, get an adult to contact the electrical company.
- When removing plugs from outlets, always grasp firmly around the plug itself, never yank it by the wire. Pulling by the cable can damage the contact between plug and socket.
- Most electrical accidents happen around water. Teach children that water and electricity are extremely dangerous together and should never be mixed.
- All heating and cooling equipment, including portable space heaters should be a KID-FREE ZONE. Mark off an area 3 feet around any open fires and HVAC equipment and teach children to always avoid these areas.
- Learn more electrical and fire safety tips for children.
5. Heating Equipment Safety
- Keep anything that could burn far away from any heating equipment, such as fireplaces, furnaces, and portable space heaters.
- Don’t try draping drying cloths on or near heating equipment. If your clothes are wet, it’s particularly dangerous. Portable electric heaters, heaters, and other appliances need ventilation to prevent overheating. If they are covered up, combustion gases can leak inside or the appliance could overheat and cause a fire.
- Never put space heaters in high-traffic areas and always keep cords from posing a tripping hazard.
- Plug portable space heaters directly into the outlet! Don’t use power strips or extension cords.
- Don’t plug any other device into the same outlet as the space heater.
- Never use the oven to heat the home.
- Turn portable space heaters off before going to bed or leaving the room. Never leave them unattended.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
- Never store anything near electrical equipment, especially if you have electrical parts underneath your stairs (a main rout of escape). Be particularly careful about storing dry paper, clothes, and other highly flammable objects near service heads, electrical meters/boxes, or consumer units.
- Never turn your furnace or air conditioner on for the season without changing your air filter. If your filter is dirty enough, it could pose a fire hazard.
6. Extension Cord Safety
Replace any damaged extension cords, especially fraying or exposed cords.
- When buying extension cords, look for Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. This means the product has been tested and approved by an independent testing laboratory.
- If you are using an extension cord outdoors, make sure it has been approved for outdoor use.
- Never use extension cords on a permanent basis. They should only be used for short periods of time.
- Don’t plug air conditioners or portable heaters into extension cords.
- Never use extension cords for large appliances, especially air conditioners and space heaters.
We want your home and family to be safe from electrical and HVAC dangers. The most important thing you can do to ensure your heating and cooling equipment is safe to use is by scheduling bi-annual professional maintenance appointments.
Happy Electrical Safety Month! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!