Winter Weather Brings Safety Tips From Consumers Energy to Keep Furnace Vents, Meters Free of Snow and Ice

Jan 06, 2015, 06:00 ET from Consumers Energy

JACKSON, Mich., Jan. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- With winter temperatures and snow settling in across 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.

"The safety of our customers is our top priority. We want customers to know how important it is to keep meters, fresh air vents and furnace exhaust pipes clear, particularly after weather that brings heavy snow and ice buildup," said Michele Kirkland, vice president of energy operations.

Kirkland offered these safety tips:

  • 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 be removed only by hand, never with a shovel or power snow removal equipment.
  • Mobile home customers: Safely clear snow away from mobile home rooftop chimneys, fresh air intakes and furnace exhaust pipes. The furnace can then be re-cycled and should operate properly.
  • High-efficiency furnace customers: Make sure the fresh air intake pipes (typically two white plastic pipes that come out of the side of the home) are free from drifting snow to prevent obstructions and improper operation.

Kirkland also noted 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.

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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SOURCE Consumers Energy