Don't let the weather fool you, winter is on its way. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is helping customers prepare for the winter season by offering easy tips on how to stay safe when heating their homes.
“With most home heating systems operated by gas, now is a good time to schedule an appointment to have your heater inspected,” said Caroline Winn, vice president of customer services for SDG&E. “Keeping your furnace and other home gas appliances in good working order is essential to ensure they are running both efficiently and safely.”
Free Appliance Safety Checks
After months of non-use, customers may be unaware that their furnace is not operating properly. While maintaining gas appliances is always the homeowner’s responsibility, at a customer’s request, SDG&E can perform free appliance safety checks. All SDG&E customers are eligible. To schedule an appointment, call SDG&E at 800-411-SDGE (7343). Customers may also schedule an appointment online through MyAccount or by using the “Check My Appliances” link on the SDG&E website.
A dysfunctional furnace can emit carbon monoxide. The colorless, odorless, tasteless gas is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, which is one of the reasons all California homeowners are now required to install carbon monoxide detectors in their home.
Along with the changing season, SDG&E also recommends customers change the battery in their carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Get to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if someone suspects carbon monoxide is present in their home by visitingsdge.com/carbon-monoxide-poisoning.
The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- unexplained nausea
- unexplained drowsiness
- mental confusion
- flu-like symptoms:
- shortness of breath
If carbon monoxide is suspected, the following immediate actions are recommended:
- Turn off the appliance. If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
- Evacuate. Evacuate the premises and call 911.
- Seek medical attention. Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
- Call for appliance inspection. Contact SDG&E at 800-411-SDGE (7343) or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
- Don’t use the appliance. Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional.
More Winter Heating Safety Tips
In addition to a furnace or forced air heating unit, SDG&E offers the following recommendations for safe and efficient operation of natural gas appliances:
- Never use an oven, range or outdoor barbeque to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose. If used indoors they can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Vacuum and clean regularly around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
- Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
- Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check the filter monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and clean or replace, if necessary.
- When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Leave the fireplace damper open. When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
For more tips to prepare for winter, including ways to cut down on heating costs, visit sdge.com/winter.