ice hot water tank

Preventing Snow and Ice From Blocking Your Furnace and Hot Water Tank Vents

Mother Nature, in all her glory, often brings unwelcome surprises around the home. The recent cold snap in Alberta was a reminder that no matter how long you’ve lived here, the temperature can still be quite disruptive.

Recently, we’ve had a number of customers ask about large inverted icicles forming under the exhaust vents of their furnace and hot water tank. Others have inquired about their furnace shutting down following heavy snowfall events. So, we thought we’d offer some insight on why this happens and some helpful tips on what to do.

Ice Blockages

Condensation is the main culprit behind ice formations under exhaust vents. When warm, moist air exits the exhaust port, it freezes in cold temperatures. Ice can begin to form under the exhaust, starting from the ground up. This is generally harmless and can be fixed by knocking the ice over before it connects with the exhaust port.

Other Blockages

In this part of the world, it’s not unusual to get heavy snowfall within a short period. If the snow accumulates and gets deep enough, it can block the exhaust and intake vent terminations. Nests or other blockages can also occur as animals seek shelter from the cold temperatures. In rare instances, regular freezing can occur from improperly installed exhaust pipes.

Luckily, you can resolve many of these problems yourself. Here are some tips for handling minor blockages.

Tips on Clearing Vent Blockages

A blocked exhaust or air intake vent can usually be cleared by rolling up your sleeves. Most obstructions will be close to the opening. Knock down any ice cones under the vent and shovel away snow accumulation. In the unusual event of an ice blockage in the vent itself, you can try using a hairdryer to melt the ice. Whatever you do, avoid using physical force, as you don’t want to damage the pipe.

Other Cold Weather Advice

Speaking of cold snaps, it is also important to ensure that if you go away on a winter vacation you have someone who can go inside and check in on your home. If the furnace shuts down there is a risk that the pipes will freeze and potentially burst, which can cause water damage and flooding.

Keep An Eye Out For Issues

As a homeowner, it’s always a good idea to take regular walks around the outside of your house to look for problems…especially following extreme weather events. Minor issues happen: it’s all part of the joys of owning a home. By keeping on top of things, you can ensure your home stays cozy and warm all winter long.