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Winter Home Hazards for Houston

So far, it’s been a mild winter for Houston homes. But even with our warmer than average temperatures, our cool nights often require some heat to keep the household comfortable. Many of our neighbors even forego the central heat and opt for cheaper alternatives to stay warm. Sometimes these alternate heating systems can be dangerous if not handled with extreme care. Our weather can also wreak havoc on homes, especially for residences where seasonal maintenance was not a priority. Think your home is safe from common winter home hazards? Read our list of concerns and give each some consideration – for the safety of your family and your home.

  • Chimney Fire – Some Houston area homes have a chimney, which offers warmth and a classic accent to the interior. A chimney is a great way to warm a home, especially in a climate where central heating is rarely needed. But a chimney can also be a major fire hazard if safety measures aren’t put into place. Make sure that you have a protective screen to stop any embers or ash from setting a fire. Also, always make sure the flue is open when a fire is going to ensure dangerous gasses are able to escape.
  • CO Danger – Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is the result of improperly ventilated fuel-burning appliances including gas ovens, fire places, gas water heaters, kerosene space heaters and more. High concentrations of CO are extremely dangerous and can cause irreparable damage and even death. Consider installing CO detectors in your home and make sure to have your central heating, fireplace and any fuel burning appliances checked by a professional.
  • Space Heater Danger – According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), space heaters are involved in 79 percent of home heating fire deaths. Half of space heater fires were started because a combustible item was too close. If you have a portable space heater in your home, make sure that it rests at least three feet away from furniture, fabric or anything else that can catch fire. In addition, never leave small children unattended in a room with a space heater.
  • Heated Blankets – Electric blankets remain a popular choice for people who want to spend a little less on heat in the winter. But there are several hazards associated with electric blankets including the concern that extended exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) fields might cause negative health effects. Electric blankets can cause fire and shock hazards in addition to overheating the body in certain medical situations.
  • Clogged Gutters – If your rain gutters weren’t cleaned out in the fall, the seasonal rain can potentially cause a great deal of damage. A blockage can cause water to pour over the sides and pool around your home’s foundation. This can cause the foundation to fail and promote mold growth. The pouring water can also cause landscape damage – and rot the wood that supports the gutters. If you haven’t touched your gutters in months, clean them out at the next opportunity.

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  • Frozen Pipes – Houston rarely sees temperatures dip under 40 degrees, which is why when it does happen there is cause for alarm. Most homes in the city don’t have insulated plumbing, requiring the homeowner to run their faucets during the freeze. Be mindful of freeze warnings and always turn on all the faucets so there’s a slow, consistent drip. This will help keep the pipes from freezing and potentially cracking.
  • Broken Heating System – If your HVAC system is not working, the winter is a good time to have it repaired. You’ll need the air conditioning again in a matter of months – and there are bound to be a few days in winter when you’ll need a little heat to warm the home. Call an HVAC professional today to schedule a repair.

A warm start to winter doesn’t necessarily mean the pleasant spring-like temperatures will remain all season. It’s smart to take precautions. Reviewing your outlets for heating and combating weather will help keep your family and home safe and comfortable all winter. Remember to call the professionals at Universal if you have any problems with your HVAC system. Don’t be caught in the cold. We can help get your HVAC back in superior condition –and ready for whatever unpredictable weather may occur throughout the year.