Clear Vent Pipes: A Key To Winter Safety
Posted: January 11, 2021
The heating system in your Maine home relies on a clear path for airflow in order to keep you and your family comfortable throughout the season. One of the biggest obstacles in making this happen—even if you have a high-efficiency unit—is snow.
Your heating system has an exhaust pipe, also called a vent pipe. If you’re in a relatively new home, your system may also have an air intake pipe. This is different from older homes, where the vent pipe was often in the chimney. In the chimney, it would not get blocked by snow or any other debris.
An air intake pipe generally protrudes through an exterior wall, which is how snow can become an issue. Blockages caused by snow can lead to safety risks for your family. The following background information will help you understand how the vent pipes can become a safety hazard:
- In order for a furnace to do its job, it needs fuel, a spark and oxygen. The furnace provides both the fuel and the spark, and in older homes, its surroundings would provide enough oxygen for it to remain lit. Newer homes, however, are generally more airtight, so they use their air intake pipes to get the oxygen they need.
- With the right amount of oxygen, the furnace will ignite and produce heat and exhaust, which includes carbon monoxide (CO). A blocked vent pipe can prevent the CO from getting out, which could create the risk of people inside suffering from CO poisoning.
- Another risk you run into in the event of a blocked air intake pipe is a stalled or shut down heating system. If this happens to you, check out these troubleshooting tips, or let us know right away.
As you can see, cleared air vents are of the utmost importance throughout the heating season. Here are a few steps you can follow to ensure that your intake and exhaust vents stay clear.
- Find your vents. Start at your furnace. If your system vents through the chimney, an aluminum pipe will come out of the back of your equipment. If your system vents through an exterior wall, you will see two PVC pipes (intake and exhaust—each three inches in diameter) coming off the top. Follow those pipes to see where they leave your home.
- Mark the vents. Mark the location of your vents so you can find them at any time—even in deep snow.
- Clear the vents. Shovel any snow around your vents. Then use a broom to clear the actual vent in order to avoid damaging the equipment.
Your safety is our priority! Please contact us anytime you have questions or concerns about your oil or propane furnace. If you need a heating oil or propane delivery for your Maine home, please let us know!