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How to Care for Your Furnace and Your Home During an Iowa Winter Storm

If you’re in the Des Moines area, you may have noticed that winter is holding on until the bitter end–and conditions are expected to worsen. While performing routine maintenance on your home’s furnace will ensure the longevity and functionality of the unit, winter storms can sometimes prove to be too much for your heater to handle. So what should you do if your furnace stops working in a blizzard? Call the Des Moines furnace repair experts at Lenz Heating & Cooling. We provide 24/7 emergency service so you and your family remain warm and safe.

But if you are not in need of emergency furnace repair, here are some tips to make sure your heater operates efficiently and to keep your home safe during the harsh winter weather.

Clear Space Around Furnace and Vents

Conventional furnaces release waste gas outside the home, and while high-efficiency furnaces function in a similar way, they also rely on fresh air intake from outside the house. Whether you have a conventional or high-efficiency furnace, it is critical to maintain an open area around the intake and exhaust pipes. Packed snow or ice can potentially clog the heater’s ventilation system, causing harmful gases like carbon monoxide to reach dangerous concentration levels in your home. Clearing a three-foot area around your furnace to make sure the ports aren’t blocked by debris or other objects is a good rule to follow. It’s also important to sweep away snow periodically during a storm to avoid icing.

The three-foot rule also applies inside your home. Try to keep furniture and curtains at least three feet away from vents and other heat sources. Not only will the clear space improve the ventilation and heat your home more efficiently, but it also prevents fire hazards.

Use Alternative Heat Sources Wisely

If your furnace does happen to go out and you need to keep warm while waiting for your HVAC technician at Lenz, remember to use space heaters and fireplaces safely to avoid fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements are the safest to use in your home. Never place a space heater on top of furniture and do not use the heater if it is wet. Once again, the three-foot rule is good to follow when using alternative heating sources.

There are some methods, though, that are too dangerous to heat your home. Please do not use an oven or stove as a home heating source. Not only is it a fire hazard, but it can also lead to CO poisoning. Electric generators should not be used inside your home or garage because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well.


The best thing to do to prepare for the extreme Iowa winters is to have your furnace maintenanced at least once a year by a furnace professional. But emergencies can happen to anyone at any time, which is why the HVAC experts at Lenz Heating & Cooling of Des Moines are always on call to repair your furnace–even in blizzard conditions! Give us a call today.