In the most critical of situations with your furnace, you should leave the house and seek safety. However, you will have to size up the situation to determine if it is extremely and immediately dangerous, or if you can do something to prevent it from becoming so. Here are three signs your furnace has a potentially urgent situation or an emergency and what you can do in each instance.
Your Furnace Is Banging Very Loudly and It Smells Like Something Is Burning
This scenario could go from bad to worse, but it is still manageable. Cut the power to the furnace, if it involves any electricity. Since electricity can ignite fires with gas, oil, or propane, you definitely want to cut the power with those types of furnaces. Turn your thermostat off, so it does not signal your furnace to start. (If you already cut the electricity to the furnace, you are a step ahead here.) Finally, do not touch or open the furnace now that it is quiet. Instead, call an HVAC contractor to come check it out.
Your Furnace Is Smoking
Okay, now you can panic just a little. Then collect yourself together and turn everything off, including your main electrical breaker switch. Then leave your house, go somewhere safe where you can make your emergency calls, and stay put until the fire department and the HVAC contractor shows up to check things out. Better yet, stay right where you are and let the professionals come talk to you about the furnace. Once the furnace repairs have been made and you have the all-clear to go home and turn your power back on, you can resume normal daily life.
Your Furnace Is on Fire!
If it is a small fire, see if you can extinguish it with a multi-purpose fire extinguisher (not water!). If it is a bigger fire or you just do not have a fire extinguisher, leave the house right away! There is nothing you can really do at this point. Make sure you shut your basement door on the way out, and then close all of the house doors after you as you leave. Shutting the doors helps contain and delay the fire until the emergency services can get there. Then go to your designated safe spot in the neighborhood and call for help. The firefighters will take over from here, and if the fire is extinguished before it causes real damage, then you can call the HVAC contractor to replace the scorched furnace.
For more information on furnace repairs, contact a company like Greers Service Company Inc.