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Clear Snow from Home Furnace Exhaust Pipes to Avoid Potential Problems

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) - The snow that fell is being blown around by steady winds, causing a lot of drifting in the area. And that now has safety experts sending out a reminder to homeowners, to make sure their furnace exhaust vents are kept clear.

As snow fell across Northeast Wisconsin, the wind whipped it around in near blizzard-like conditions.  And Shannon Beyersdorf says when you have circumstances like that, homeowners need to take a walk around the exterior of their home.

“If there are any PVC pipes coming out of your house, you want to make sure they are cleared out with a shovel,” said Beyersdorf, a heating technician with Bay Area Services.

The pipes Beyersdorf is speaking of are the exhaust pipes for your home's furnace. In snowstorms like this snow could quickly block them, preventing poisonous carbon monoxide gas from leaving the home.

“That carbon monoxide that usually exhausts out - seeps back into your home and can affect you and your family unknowingly,” said Assistant Fire Chief Eric Johnson with De Pere Fire Department.

According to the CDC between 2010 and 2015, over 2,200 people died from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. The highest number of deaths each year occurring during winter.

“The easiest remedy to that is to install one or several working detectors,” said Johnson.

Johnson says carbon monoxide has no smell, taste or color - so a CO detector is vital to have in every home.

“If they don't have a CO detector, they wouldn't know it,” said Johnson.

But after snowstorms like this, homeowners also need to make sure their furnace exhaust pipes aren't blocked by the snow.

“You're going to want to find the vent pipes for your furnace and shovel them out,” Beyersdorf said.

Ensuring the invisible poisonous gas is able to easily leave your home.

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