ROYAL OAK, Mich. — Following the heavy snowfall across much of Michigan, Consumers Energy is asking customers to keep safety in mind by making sure their gas furnace fresh air intake pipes and gas/electric meters are free of snow and ice.
“With the large amount of snow that fell over the past two days, we have received numerous no-heat calls from customers, particularly those who live in mobile homes where chimneys are located on top of flat roofs. Snow has piled up around and blocked many of these chimneys, which causes furnace pilot lights to go out,” said Scott Bartholomew, manager of customer home and commercial services for Consumers Energy.
Bartholomew offered these safety tips:
- Mobile Home customers: Safely clear snow away from mobile home rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake. The furnace can then be recycled and should operate properly.
- High Efficiency Furnace customers: Make sure the fresh air intake pipes (typically two white plastic pipes that come out the side of the home – see related photo) are free from drifting snow to prevent obstructions and improper operation.
- Keep gas and electric meters clear of snow and ice. When snow and ice is allowed to build up it can become compacted and freeze, causing damage that interferes with proper operation of meters and related appliances. Snow should only be removed by hand, never with a shovel or power snow removal equipment.
Bartholomew also warned customers that safe removal of snow and ice around chimneys, intake valves and meters can help prevent possible carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly.
- Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes.
- If any of these symptoms are experienced, leave the area immediately and call 911 or your local fire department for immediate help.
- The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible alarm that will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present.
To help ensure the safety of meter readers, customers are also asked to keep their sidewalks, stairways and gate areas free of snow and ice buildup. A clear path to the meter and a meter that is clearly visible without a build-up of snow and ice will help make meters easier to read and reduce the need for estimating energy use.