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Officials remind people to clean furnace vents outside

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A high efficiency gas furnace vent
A high efficiency gas furnace vent

MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - It's not your your driveway that needs to be clear of ice and snow this winter, you also need to check your home's furnace vents and gas meter.

We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey says blockages on either of those could be dangerous for your home. "In the least case scenario, you could get inefficient furnace burning, in the worst case, that's carbon monoxide in your house." New high efficiency furnaces vent along the side of your home, and can become blocked by heavy snows directly or when the show falls off your roof.

Snow cover can also block the vents on your gas meter. If the vent is blocked, your gas system could malfunction. Manthey says it's important to be gentle around those meters though. "You don't want to whack it with a shovel. So, use brooms or your hands to clear snow from the meter itself." Even if there's no visible damage, there's parts inside that could break or go out of alignment with repeated strikes.

Manthey also says every home should come with a carbon monoxide detector in order to keep your family safe. Homeowners are required to have those detectors under state law.

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