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How to Handle a Home Heating Emergency

It was fortunate that few homes lost power during Winter Storm Jonas as it slammed the Northern Virginia region with several feet of snow, treacherous winds, and freezing temperatures just a week ago. However, power outages are just one reason why you might find yourself facing a winter heating emergency, and the best thing you can do is be prepared. With a little preparation, you can handle an unexpected heating system shutdown with little fuss.

First, let’s look at some reasons why your furnace or heat pump system might fail to heat your home. Don’t assume that something terrible is wrong before you check for simple fixes.

The power is out. As we mentioned, losing power because of a winter storm, strong winds, or a problem with your local utility provider can leave your home without a working heating system when you need it most. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot our experts can do to get you up and running when the power is out (that’s why we recommend installing a whole house generator), but we can help you out with some tips to keep you warm in the meantime.

Something is wrong with your heat pump system. Heat pump failure is often related to a broken or improperly set thermostat. Try raising the temperature five degrees to see if the system turns on. If your system isn’t working at all, you should also ensure that it is receiving power and that the circuit it’s on hasn’t tripped or been blown. Other heat pump issues include: not cycling properly, not blowing the warm air out, freezing up, and making unusual noises. If you’re experiencing these issues, it may be time to call in an expert heat pump repair technician from SSI.

Your furnace is broken. Furnaces can fail for many different reasons. First, make sure that your furnace has power, whether you use electric, natural gas, or oil to heat your home. If power isn’t the issue, check the thermostat and circuit breaker as mentioned above. If that doesn’t get your furnace working again, make sure that the pilot light hasn’t gone out. A closed valve or c

logged pilot opening can turn off your pilot light and prevent the furnace from producing heat. If these fixes don’t yield any results, it’s time to call the professionals.

If the above tips didn’t get your system working again, here’s what you need to do to keep your family safe and as warm as possible during a heating emergency.

  1. If your system appears broken, call the professionals first. SSI provides emergency service during the winter to get your furnace or heat pump system fixed as quickly as possible. We understand the distress of having a broken system when the freezing outdoor temperatures are quick to take over inside your home.
  2. While you’re waiting for service, insulate your home as much as possible. Use towels or blankets to line windows and doorways to keep cold air from sneaking in.
  3. Layer up. Gloves, hats, thermals, and wool socks can be your best friends during a heating emergency. Personal heat packs can be placed inside your gloves and socks to warm your extremities, and heated rice packs or heating pads can be used to keep warm.
  4. Keep back-up heaters on hand, and use a back-up heat source if you’re desperate – but always follow proper safety precautions. Camping and outdoor supply stores often sell great products that can help you weather a heating emergency, but ventilation is important and you should always keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors, too, are very important in staying safe while using alternate heating sources.
  5. If you have small children or elderly people in your care, it may be best to get a hotel room for the duration or stay with family or friends until your heat is restored. It’s inconvenient to leave your home, but severe winter temperatures can be a big safety hazard for infants and older people.

For emergency service, make sure to call us at (703) 783-9302. We’ll get a technician to your home as quickly as possible to restore your heat and make your family comfortable once again!

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