Although your heating equipment can provide welcome relief from stormy winter weather, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of power outages during severe storms. Without power, your heating system cannot operate, making it important to have a plan for staying warm and minimizing exposure to the elements. As noted by Fairfax County, it is important to stay inside during icy weather and to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia, knowing when to seek medical help. Additionally, you will want to consider the following steps as you deal with an electricity outage.

Verify Details of an Outage

Oftentimes, an outage is short-lived, resulting in a quick return to normal conditions for your heating system and family. You may want to wait a few minutes to allow time for the power to be restored. You can look outside to determine whether the issue is widespread, especially if the outage has occurred at night. Although an outage can affect your entire neighborhood or community, it is possible to have a situation that is isolated strictly to your own home. With a widespread problem, you will want to contact your utility company for details about the issue. However, you may need to be patient if the call lines are busy. You may also want to use a smartphone to access the company website for information. If the issue is isolated to your home, contact your provider to discuss the situation and obtain help.

Take Important Safety Precautions

Look for outside issues like downed power lines, reporting them to your utility company promptly. It is wise to keep family members and pets inside during an outage so that the loss of heat in your home is minimized. To keep individuals warm, consider some of the following steps:

  • If you have an indoor fireplace, use it to provide heat in a central area.
  • Use layering techniques to ensure that each member of your household is warm enough.
  • Use blankets to provide additional warmth.
  • Minimize movement in and out of the house.
  • Don’t use candles or other flammable items to produce heat.

If your family is significantly affected by the temperature levels, you may want to seek a warmer location until the outage has been resolved. In some cases, community centers may open to individuals who need to keep warm. In other cases, you might look for a motel or friend in a community not affected by the outage, staying there until power is restored at home.

Protect Your Major Appliances and Electronic Equipment

A light can be left on so that you will know when an outage is over. However, you will also want to think about unplugging important electronic equipment and appliances to limit your risk of damage from power surges. Review refrigerators, televisions, and computers as well as other goods in your home. You can also check your thermostat, turning your heating system off to limit the risk of damage.

Post-Outage Inspection for your Heating System

As your power is restored, you will want to avoid cranking your heating unit to its highest settings. A setpoint of 68 is appropriate, and your equipment should operate consistently until this level is reached. Excessive operation can stress your equipment, leading to furnace repair needs, but your normal setpoint should be appropriate as your home warms back up.

If you require furnace repair after a power outage, Commonwealth Cooling & Heating is available for prompt service as needed. You can learn more from our heating services page, or you can call our Lorton office at 703-436-8028 for assistance.