Why You Should Keep Your Vent Pipe Clear

Written on: January 11, 2021

home vent pipe new yorkThroughout the winter, it’s important to make sure that your heating system’s airflow has a clear, safe path. In the event of a serious snowfall, you’ll need to be proactive and act quickly to keep your system running properly—even if it’s a new, high-efficiency unit. Here’s a bit of background:

Your home’s heating system has a vent pipe, aka exhaust pipe. Newer homes have an air intake pipe, while the vent for older homes, in many cases, is in the chimney.

Now, if your vent pipe is in your chimney, there’s no risk of it being blocked by the snow. On the other hand, air intake pipes are affected by the snow as they reach the outside through an exterior wall. Once snow is causing a blockage, your family’s safety could be compromised.

Compromised Safety:

To function effectively, a furnace needs three things: fuel, a spark and oxygen. Furnaces in newer homes rely on air intake pipes to get the oxygen they need. As they heat our homes, furnaces produce carbon monoxide (CO), which needs a way out. A blocked vent pipe puts a household at risk for CO poisoning.

In addition, the system could shut down entirely as the result of a blocked air intake pipe. Here are a few troubleshooting tips you can try if this happens, but we also encourage you to contact us to let us know right away if your system stops working.

Following these three steps will help ensure that your intake and exhaust vents are clear—and safe:

  1. Find your vents. Does your system vent through a wall? If so, the intake and exhaust pipes—which are PVC pipes, each about three inches in circumference—will come off the top. Check to see where they exit your home. For systems that vent through the chimney, you’ll see an aluminum pipe coming out of the back of the equipment.
  2. Mark the location of each vent. You want to be able to find the vents even if you get several inches—or feet—of snow.
  3. Keep the space around the vents clear. In the event of snowfall, shovel the area around the vents right away. Clear the vent itself with a broom to avoid damage.

If you have questions about your furnace and how to care for it in the winter—or any time of year—please contact us. We want you to be safe and comfortable every day in your Western New York home, around the clock. If you need to set up propane delivery or heating oil delivery, please let us know!