MPSC urges Michiganders to clear snow from chimneys, vents and utility meters for safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  February 18, 2021

Media Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555
Michigan.gov/MPSC
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With Michiganders now mostly plowed out from recent heavy snowfalls, it’s time to make sure that snow removal also includes places you might not think about: furnace vents and natural gas and electric meters.

Making sure they’re cleared of snow is a critical safety matter. Here are steps you can take to help prevent a loss of heat, carbon monoxide poisoning and other dangers.

  • Make sure chimneys and air intake valves are free of snow and ice. Blockages of either can lead to carbon monoxide entering your home. It’s a deadly, odorless gas, and poisoning symptoms include headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, fainting, weakness and nausea. Even if a blocked vent doesn’t lead to a carbon monoxide issue, it can put extra stress on a furnace, reducing its effectiveness and heating your home.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get out of your home into fresh air and call 911 for emergency medical attention.
  • Residents of mobile homes and other residences with flat roofs should pay attention to drifting rooftop snow that can leave chimneys susceptible to being blocked.
  • Similarly, high-efficiency furnace customers should make sure white plastic air intake valves are clear.
  • Snow or ice buildup on utility meters can cause damage that leads to improper operation of meters. Remove any snow and ice carefully, by hand or carefully with a broom – shovels and other heavy snow removal tools can also cause damage that hinders proper operation.

The MPSC has also published tips for keeping your home safe and warm during the cold snap.

Households struggling to pay energy bills should contact their utility, call 211 or go to www.mi211.org. Information on emergency bill assistance, affordable payment plans and other forms of help is available through the MPSC’s consumer tip sheet on applying for utility assistance, a tip sheet on energy assistance and shutoff protection, and the Be Winterwise page.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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