Maintain Your HVAC Safety When Decorating for Halloween
With Halloween just around the corner, one of the year’s favorite seasons for decorating is upon us. As we get prepared for a time filled with ghosts, ghouls, goblins, candy, and all manner of frightening costumes, it’s certainly worth the time and effort to make sure that you prepare as safe a way as possible.
Did you know that over 70 percent of Americans participate in Halloween each year? The chances are high that you are, too, so when you’re planning on how you’re going to decorate for Halloween, do you think about how it might impact your HVAC system?
So, whether you plan to transform your home into a spooky mansion or simply want to add a few pumpkins to the front yard, it’s essential to make sure you decorate with your HVAC unit in mind.
Keep your unit covered
If your house is visible from the front and sides, you might want to decorate every part that those trick-or-treaters can see.
An important point to keep in mind while decorating is to avoid covering or otherwise obstructing your HVAC unit’s vents with decorations. Covering your HVAC unit can lead to several problems. In addition to experiencing reduced airflow in your home, you could also end up paying more for electricity due to the HVAC unit not performing as efficiently as possible. In some instances, pieces of decorations could break off and damage the unit.
About those webbing decorations . . .
Spider webs- real ones – can cause problems with the internal components of the outdoor unit. Most especially, they can hamper electrical connections and trigger circuit breakers to trip or, in the worst cases, make components and circuit boards burn out.
Speaking of spider webs, those fake webs are such a stress-free decoration to put up, and they’re a no-brainer for millions of households during Halloween each year. The artificial webbing you pick up at your nearby specialty store affords a low-cost way to get into the spirit of Halloween. Add in some plastic spiders, and the creep factor only builds up.
However, if you do decide to add them, you need to be aware of the possibility of loose fibers getting into your air. This can accelerate the speed at which your system’s air filter clogs up, in addition to adversely affecting your home’s air quality.
Don’t block your indoor vents
Maybe you want to outdo those neighbors who go all out with some of your own eerie pumpkins and mummies, an evil clown, or a ghastly ghost. That’s all good but be extra careful where you place them.
Just like the air needs to circulate in your outdoor unit, the air needs to be able to get in and out of your indoor unit. If you have any type of decorations placed over the vents or good-sized items such as a life-size witch or other figures that barricades the vent, the air won’t be able to move in and out of the ductwork.
Vents blocked by your Halloween decorations can restrict air from leaving the ductwork. Blockages can put a prevent your HVAC system from heating and cooling as it should, which will eventually make everyone uncomfortable in your house, especially if you happen to be cooking for a Halloween party.
In a worst-case scenario, an obstruction to the airflow places added strain on the HVAC components, putting them at risk for failure or even fire.
Be careful with those creepy candles
Let’s face it. No Halloween display would be complete without some eerie candles. After all, candles are a handy addition – whether you’re simply setting the mood or adding a particularly spooky backdrop for your Halloween decorations.
But before you light up your jack-o’-lanterns, know that candles can be a huge fire hazard. If you can’t afford not to use a real flame or simply prefer them, make sure to keep those candles away from flammable materials. Not only are they fire hazards, but the wax from candles can even break down your unit.
Another unforeseen concern produced by traditional candles is the effects they have on your home’s air filtration. Burning candles produce soot, and even though these are tiny particles, they can add up to big-time problems.
These particles gather on your air filter or air handler and will constrict the airflow through your heating and cooling system, cutting efficiency and forcing your system to work harder and, in the long run, costing you more money. Not to mention what the added soot particles do to the air quality in your home.
The truth is, battery-powered candles would be a great option, as they don’t create soot. Additionally, you won’t have to be concerned about a fire breaking out if you accidentally forget to turn one off before leaving the room or going to bed. If you still want to experience that authentic Halloween feeling with real burning candles, we recommend you look into candles that are made of more natural materials like soy or beeswax, which are supposed to produce less soot.
Use the safest decorative lighting possible
Decorative lighting can add quite a bit to your Halloween décor when the sun goes down. But it’s important to be very careful when using decorative lighting and make sure that it has a high safety rating.
You should always use safety-approved lights when decorating, especially if you’re planning to place them near your HVAC unit. The HVAC unit’s heat can lead to problems that harm the lights themselves and damage your yard or even hurt people. Additionally, make sure to use light fixtures approved for the tasks you want them to do.
Halloween decorations can make your holiday a lot more fun, but it’s always imperative to make sure you’re decorating your home safely.
How about those eerie fog machines?
No one would argue that fog machines create a truly scary atmosphere. Some machines use a water-mixed solution of glycol, glycerin, or mineral oil to create that spooky effect. Problem is these chemicals can trigger breathing problems in allergy and asthma sufferers, including coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
To be extra safe, it’s best for people with such medical conditions to stay out of rooms where smoke and fog machines are being used to avoid these potential triggers.
Note: Avoid those fog machines that use “fog juice.” These put a lot of frightening pollutants into the air. However, if you still choose to use one of these units, you need to replace your air filter soon after.
Dealing with your HVAC system at a Halloween party
So, you’re planning a Halloween party? That sounds like a great idea! However, please take note of these tips while planning.
In addition to indoor air quality concerns that come with the use of special effects like fog machines, one other way your HVAC system is affected by a Halloween party is the frequent opening of doors. Rather than leaving the door open, you can use decorations, lights, and signs to let kids know they should come up and knock.
Keeping the door closed will keep your HVAC from working extra hard, and it also doubles as one of our indoor air quality tips. After all, fall air can carry a lot of allergens, and the more you let them in, the more they can affect your indoor air quality.
You might also want to think about how a party can increase the heat in your living space. With many people gathered in an area — especially if they’re moving around and even dancing – you won’t need as much heat as you otherwise would. So, when thinking about the indoor air quality tips to apply, you should also think about turning down your HVAC system during a big party.
Avoid those scary utility bills
Halloween is a fun and exciting time of the year for everyone. But if you’re not careful, it can also be plenty scary . . . for your wallet.
If you’re the type of person who loves to dive right into this scary holiday, you might be planning on setting up things such as strobe lighting, speakers that emit spooky sounds, or even a projector and screens. All these items will add to your monthly energy bill. So, be mindful of the added costs and, especially, the safety issue involved with running wires.
Keep these tips in mind when celebrating, and you won’t need to fear the mailman next month.
Okay, before you accuse us of being anti-Halloween with our list of do’s and don’ts, here are a few suggestions that might make your celebrations a bit more fun without concerns for your HVAC system.
Don’t forget about the garage or fencing
If you really want to avoid problems with your HVAC system, you might want to consider decorating your garage. You might start with the garage door. This is a great place to hang decorations such as fake cobwebs, or you might stick decorations to the doors themselves. The best part is that you needn’t be concerned about any possible damage the way you might if you were sticking things to the walls inside your home.
If you are planning to prepare for Halloween, you might think about if you want to greet trick-or-treaters at your garage instead of your front door. And because the inside of your garage can withstand much rougher treatment, you can really go B-I-G with the decorations here.
Fences are another location that are easy to forget. They’re not very thrilling most of the year, so why not give them a chance to be in the spotlight during the Halloween season?
One of the best things about fences is they’re so accessible. You can almost always reach them easily, making them much less of a decorating hassle. Webs are especially great to use on fencing. You could string fake webs along the length of a fence for as far as you want to go.
These simple decorations can give your entire house a spooky mood as people approach, all the while eliminating the concern for such things as blocked vents or covered HVAC units.
Above all, don’t forget to have fun
All these tips are only useful if you have fun this Halloween. Yes, it might be hard work now, but it’s all about having a great Halloween season.
While you think about how to prepare for Halloween, think about what you want to get the most out of the holiday. Is it about the decorations? Maybe you just want an excuse to bring friends and family together one more time before the inevitable turn of the weather. Or perhaps it’s a combination.
Whatever your reasons, take time to also think about your house in general while you think about how to prepare for Halloween. This can be a great opportunity to ensure your entire home is ready for fall and winter, from gutters to plumbing to the HVAC system. Bad weather can make existing problems worse, so now is the time to address any such issues.