Heating, Cooling & Safety – A Comprehensive Guide

HeatCool

Victoria is renowned for its varied climate, with temperatures that fluctuate on an almost daily basis. As we move through each season, we rely heavily on our heating and cooling systems to maintain good indoor comfort year-round. Whether in the home or office, we tend to give our heating and cooling systems a good workout in this corner of the globe—but how do you know if your heating or cooling system is safe to use? Here we provide a valuable run-down on everything you need to know to ensure you’re operating your heating or cooling system safely to protect your family and loved ones.

Why is safety important?

You wouldn’t drive a car that wasn’t safe, so why would you use your heating or cooling system if you weren’t sure it was safe? When not appropriately serviced and maintained, heating and cooling systems can be hazardous to the health and wellbeing of your family and loved ones. Neglecting to service and maintain your heating or cooling unit regularly can also dramatically reduce the lifespan of the system and increase its running costs.

Health

Sick House Syndrome
A poorly maintained heating or cooling system can reduce the air quality in your home and pose a range of potential health risks, known as ‘sick house syndrome’. Symptoms can include:

Following a regular service and maintenance schedule and ensuring your system includes adequate ventilation will dramatically reduce your risk of exposure to a range of potentially harmful substances including Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), dust and other impurities. Proper ventilation will also help to reduce the build-up of moisture in your home and minimise the potential for mould growth—this is particularly important if you’re operating an evaporative cooling system.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

While generally safe to operate, gas heating systems have been responsible for cases of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. Exposure to CO can cause symptoms including headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, visual problems, chest and stomach problems and disorientation, as well as potentially leading to a range of more serious health issues such as neurological damage, cardiac trauma, brain damage, coma or even death. A Carbon Monoxide leak is extremely dangerous as it offers little to no warning signs—you can’t see, smell or taste it, making it difficult to identify without regular safety checking.

In addition to conducting regular servicing and safety checks, you should also keep an eye out for signs that your system is not running efficiently and could possibly be leaking CO, such as:

If you suspect that your gas heater could be leaking CO, you should immediately turn the unit off, open windows and doors, go outside in the fresh air and seek medical assistance if you need it. It’s extremely important to have the system checked by a licenced gas service technician before using it again. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm in your home can also provide additional peace of mind. Energy Safe Victoria recommends having your unit serviced at least every 18 months to two years to avoid any potentially dangerous leaks.

Fire Safety

A poorly maintained heating or cooling system can also be responsible for causing dangerous house fires. When gas heating systems go un-serviced, it creates the opportunity for dust to build-up and block the burner in the unit, inhibiting the heat exchanger and flue passageways from functioning properly. 

Overheating and burner issues can also occur because of blocked air filters, ductwork and fans. Electrical air conditioning systems also require regular maintenance and safety checks to ensure all parts and components are undamaged and operating normally to minimise the risk of electrical fires.

Conducting servicing and maintenance on your heating or cooling system every 18-24 months will not only reduce the risk of system malfunction and house fires, but it can also increase the lifespan of your unit by ensuring it is operating to its optimal efficiency and reduce your ongoing running costs.

How to tell if your heating or cooling unit needs maintenance

Unsure if your heating or cooling unit needs maintenance? Here are some simple signs to look out for that indicate it’s time to call in the experts.

Cooling Units

Not cooling as effectively as before: A cooling system which is not performing as well as it normally would, could be an indication of a low gas level, blocked air filter or dirty coils. It could also be due to a damaged fan blower which is causing ice to form inside the unit.

Unusual smells: If you notice an unusual smell when you turn on your cooler, it could be a sign that mould or mildew is growing inside the air conditioner.

Dirty registers or filters: A build-up of dust on the registers or filters will obstruct the flow of air to the unit and dramatically affect the performance and lifespan of your cooler.

Gas Heating Units

Not heating effectively: A heater which is not heating your home effectively could be caused by a malfunctioning or damaged burner, blower or electrical components, or it could be an indication of an issue with the pilot light or ignition system.

Gas or flue smells: If you can smell gas when you turn on your heater, it’s very important to stop using it until you have the system inspected and tested by a licensed gas fitter as it could indicate a potentially dangerous gas leak. 

Dirty registers or filters: When left ignored, dirty and dusty filters can inhibit air flow to the unit.

Heating and cooling units need to be serviced at least once every 18-24 months to ensure they are operating efficiently and are safe to use.

If it’s been a while since your system was last serviced or you’ve noticed any of the issues we’ve just mentioned, don’t ignore it any longer. Book a heating or cooling service with a licenced technician today.

How to ensure your unit is safe

When maintained and used properly, heating and cooling systems are very safe and effective ways to heat your home or office. To ensure your unit and system is always safe to use, make sure you remember to do the following: 

Basic Maintenance

These basic maintenance tasks will help ensure your heating or cooling unit is always operating efficiently:

Using Your Heating or Cooling System

Here are some valuable tips to help you ensure you are operating your heating or cooling unit safely:

Look out for any warning signs

Unusual smells, strange noises, the unit frequently switching on and off, a system which stops working effectively or family members feeling unwell could be an indication of an issue with the unit which requires further investigation.

Ensure your heating system has adequate ventilation

Ventilation will prevent allergens, mould and other toxins from accumulating in your home.

Set your thermostat to an even temperature between 18 and 20°C

This will keep energy consumption down, reduce unnecessary wear and tear and extend the lifetime of the unit. Constantly changing the temperature setting is one of the most inefficient ways to use your units and a sure way to drive up usage costs

Turn the system off when not needed

switch your heating or cooling off when you leave home or when you go to bed in the evening.

Use a Licensed Technician

The most important thing when arranging servicing for your heating or cooling system is to check if the technician or gasfitter is licensed, which you can do by visiting the Victorian Building Authority website. It can also help to ask them what they’ll look at when servicing your unit. During a routine service, you can generally expect a technician to:

For gas heaters, they should also:

At HeatCool, our team of licensed technicians and gasfitters located throughout Melbourne can service, maintain and repair almost any type of heating or cooling unit.

Contact us to request a service or repair of your heating or cooling system so you can have confidence that you’re heating or cooling your home or office safely and efficiently through every season.