Be safe in your home this winter

Ash, soot and combustion residue build up can ignite, resulting in flames coming out your chimney, or worse, going into your roof.
Ash, soot and combustion residue build up can ignite, resulting in flames coming out your chimney, or worse, going into your roof.

Winter is officially here in a couple of weeks (unless you're a Game of Thrones fan), but before you snuggle down in your thick socks with a cup of hot chocolate, it's important to check your heating source.

Wood fires

Your chimney or flue needs to be regularly cleaned to avoid ash, soot and combustion residue building up. This build up can ignite, resulting in flames coming out your chimney, or worse, going into your roof.

If your fireplace chimney is brick, check that brickwork. Cracks might allow the fire to get through to the course in the back wall.

Flues going into the ceiling and roof space should have double or triple skins to stop radiant heat igniting roof timbers or cellulose type insulation.

You can buy products from your local hardware store to put in the fire while it is burning to help reduce residue build up in the chimney or flue.

Also, for efficient use:

  • burn only dry, seasoned, untreated wood;
  • use smaller logs instead of only one large log;
  • do not pack the fire box too full as this will starve the fire of oxygen and cause it to smoulder;
  • keep the fire burning brightly for the first 20 minutes after lighting and reloading - the faster you can get the fire going the les smoke there will be;
  • always have a visible flame if you plan to keep the fire going overnight.
Air conditioners should have a full service every one to two years depending on use.

Air conditioners should have a full service every one to two years depending on use.

Air conditioner

Kyle Rafter, National Product Manager, Fujitsu General Australia said keeping the reverse cycle air conditioning indoor and outdoor units clean makes a difference.

"Dust and debris can build-up on both the indoor and outdoor unit, restricting airflow. This can cause the system to work harder, leading to higher energy usage and increased running costs. Wipe them down, and clean the indoor unit filters, during autumn to ensure they're ready when the winter cold snap arrives," he said.

He also recommended a full service every one to two years depending on use.

For efficient use, program the system to turn on to heat the room before waking and before returning home from work or school. This avoids operation at full power during peak times and lowers demand on the unit. Only heat the rooms being used: keep doors and windows closed and for homes with ducted system use zone control features to heat specific areas.

Gas heater

Western Australia's Director of Energy Safety, Ken Bowron said signs that a gas appliance isn't working correctly and requires a service include difficulty relighting, discolouration on the outer case or a yellow flame rather than a steady blue flame.

"With heaters sitting idle for many months over summer, air filters, air ways, fans and burners can become blocked by lint and dust. This can lead to overheating and burner problems producing carbon monoxide gas," Mr Bowron said.

"Gas appliances should be checked and serviced by a licensed gas fitter or service agent, as per the manufacturer's instructions or at a minimum every two years. If the appliance is over 10 years old, it should be checked annually. You can check the date of the last service by viewing the service sticker attached to it.

"Good ventilation and maintenance are vital to prevent the build-up of harmful carbon monoxide levels and your family's safety," he said.