What To Do In Case Of A Home Heating Emergency

image of a woman next to a broken heating system

Imagine that you are in the middle of a cold winter, and the ground has several inches of snow. You notice that the room temperature starts going down. Unfortunately, the heating system has stopped working. This is probably one of the worst things that homeowners experience during winter. When a home heating emergency happens, you will need to be prepared to protect you and your family from the discomfort and unsafe conditions that come with extreme temperatures.

You will need to stay warm until the HVAC contractor fixes the problem. In this article, you will learn how to stay warm and keep your home safe in case of a heating emergency.

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Understanding A Home Heating Emergency

When your home heating system becomes inoperative at a time when you need it most, then you have a home heating emergency. Sometimes, the problem is simple enough that it can be fixed with basic furnace troubleshooting. For example, you could check the power outlet and your heating system’s circuit breaker. However, many home heating issues require the expertise of a professional HVAC contractor to ensure your safety. You could also check if you have sufficient fuel. If this is the problem, call your propane or heating oil supplier right away. Checking the unit and its accessories will help you identify the root of the problem right away.

If you have a no-heat emergency on your hands, be aware that it could lead to serious inconvenience and some safety issues. Lack of heat in your home can create different problems, such as:

  • Discomfort: Problems with your HVAC system will always cause discomfort. No one can live indoors in low temperatures and feel safe and comfortable. Without a reliable source of heat, the risk of respiratory problems can increase. This can cause the most vulnerable members of your family to suffer from colds, flu, and other health issues. Low temperatures also make it difficult to rest or sleep.
  • Health Risks: Exposure to extremely low temperatures can lead to hypothermia, a condition wherein body temperature becomes dangerously low. Hypothermia affects your ability to think clearly and move normally. Prolonged exposure to the cold can also lead to respiratory problems and even frostbite. People who suffer from arthritis and heart disease are at higher risk of developing more problems in cold temperatures. Cold conditions can also increase health risks for sensitive individuals, including the elderly, infants, and young children.
  • Frozen Pipes: A working heating system keeps water in the liquid state, allowing it to flow freely through the pipes. If there is a home heating emergency, the pipes could freeze and cause the water to freeze as well. Frozen water tends to expand, which could increase the likelihood that the pipes would burst, causing damage.
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Tips For Keeping Warm During A Heating System Failure

If a DIY solution cannot fix the problems with your heating system, you need to call an HVAC professional immediately. However, during the time between making the call and waiting for the system to be fixed, you need to be able to protect yourself and your family from the cold. Here’s what you can do:

Make Sure Your Heating System Is Turned Off

The heating system is already inoperative, so make sure to turn off the power and the thermostat. This will help protect your electrical heating system from surges in case the problem has to do with the power source. If your furnace runs on gas, turn off your supply line to isolate the system.

Use Space Heaters

A space heater is a lightweight, portable heater that generates heat to warm up the air. It distributes heat by blowing warm air using a small fan. The size of the room that a space heater can heat will depend on the capacity of the unit. A 2-3 kW space heater, for example, can generate enough heat to warm a small room. A space heater with a higher kW capacity of up to 30kW can warm up larger spaces. When using a space heater, follow safety precautions as recommended by the manufacturer and never leave the heater unattended.

It is also a good idea to keep household members in one room as much as possible. Keep doors and windows closed so the room can retain the heat for longer.

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Warm Up With Hot Drinks & Foods

Hot or warm drinks help give your body a nice warm boost. Hot fluids can also help keep your face and hands warm. Choose drinks such as herbal tea and coffee. Coffee is great at stimulating your metabolism, which triggers your body to burn fuel, helping you keep warm naturally. Herbal tea, especially ginger, helps improve blood circulation to warm up your extremities.

Avoid drinking alcohol because it dilates your blood vessels. This has the effect of making you feel warm, but it prevents the blood vessels from constricting, which does nothing to ensure that your core body temperature is up. Instead, you may also consider consuming a bowl of warm soup.

drinking hot tea to stay warm during a heater failure


Get Physical

Exercise increases your heart rate, which encourages better blood flow and circulation. Perform simple exercises such as walking/jogging in place to help keep blood flowing and keep the feeling of cold at bay.

Dress Up In Layers

Put on additional clothes even while indoors. Clothes such as coats and jackets act as insulation for your body to keep you warm. Put on socks, gloves, and shawls as well. Help senior and very young members of the family to put on layers of clothing. Make sure that they are not constricted and that the clothes are neither too heavy nor too tight.

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Preventing Home Heating Emergencies

Preparation is the best way to prevent and manage a home heating emergency. When you prepare, you eliminate the most common risks and issues that an emergency brings. To avoid an unnecessary heating emergency, here are some tips you can use:

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Schedule Regular Heating System Maintenance

To prevent heater malfunctions and premature damage to your furnace, schedule an annual HVAC inspection. Regular checkups by a trained heating professional can help keep your heating system in good shape. If there are problems, regular inspections will help identify them early and prevent furnace breakdowns.

Call An HVAC Contractor Immediately

If there is trouble with your heating system, get in touch with an HVAC professional immediately. You might think troubleshooting the system will save you time and money, but not all problems can be fixed with a DIY method. If the problem is serious, you could do more damage to the system if you do not know what you are doing. If there is a problem with your system, make sure you get it inspected as soon as possible.

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Change The HVAC Air Filters

HVAC air filters perform an important job in keeping your heating system efficient. They collect particulates from the air to ensure that indoor air is clean and safe to breathe. Over time, air filters become clogged, making it difficult for the heating system to work. The system will work harder just to distribute air. As a result, it uses up more energy or fuel and eventually becomes inefficient. Clogged filters can increase the likelihood of premature damage to the heating system which will lead to unnecessary and costly repairs. To prevent this from happening, check the air filter in your heating system monthly. Have it cleaned or replaced when necessary.



Many types of furnace malfunctions are preventable. By taking steps to prevent these problems, you can save on the cost of HVAC repairs and replacements. More importantly, you can keep yourself and your family comfortable and safe during the cold season. Furthermore, there are some practical solutions and simple steps you can perform to manage a home heating emergency in case it does happen. In the meantime, make a reputable HVAC company your trusted partner in keeping your heating system efficient for many years.


Call Lawes Company For All Of Your Home Heating Requirements

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Lawes Company has been the leading heating and cooling services provider in the area for many years. Our services are performed only by NATE-certified technicians, so you are guaranteed that every inspection, tune-up, installation, repair, and replacement work we perform meets industry standards. At Lawes Company, we can guarantee the most competitive services in the area that will match your needs, requirements, and budget. Get in touch with us today and ask about an in-home estimate free of cost. Also, for those unexpected furnace breakdowns, we offer affordable and fast emergency, no-heat furnace and boiler repairs. Call now!

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