When it snows, you typically focus on clearing your driveway and shoveling sidewalks. However, when it snows enough to build up in areas around your home, other areas need to be on your mind as well. Anything that can block HVAC vents or the intake/exhaust pipe to your furnace or water can cause significant damage to those systems.

There are two things to understand when it comes to the snow’s effect on your furnace or water heater.

Cold weather and snow can cause your system to over cycle, which raises your utility bills and puts added wear and tear on the air filters, requiring them to be replaced more frequently. This can also damage the components. The other issue is with the intake or exhaust pipe for your furnace or water heater.


Many people heat their homes with a gas furnace, which needs combustion to work. The side effect of this process require venting, either through a flue or with the help of a fan pushing the gasses and other byproducts outside of the house. The problem with snow is that it can pile up and block these critical airways, which can have numerous effects on your heating system.

  • Exhaust vents/intakes become plugged or can’t function
  • Increased wear on your water heater or furnace
  • Build-up of carbon monoxide and other dangerous byproducts may become trapped in the home

Even for those with a high-efficiency furnace, you’ll still have to worry about your vents from becoming clogged with snow because a high-efficiency model will need to pull fresh air from the outside for combustion. Typically, the intake pipes on such furnaces are
installed above the snow line, but improper installation could cause the intake to become buried or blocked by snow.

When these important air-intakes are block, your heating systems can stall. This is because these appliances require oxygen and when they don’t get it they will either stall or shut off if there’s a built-in safety mechanism. When the exhaust vent is covered with snow then something called a snow cave might form before the system has a chance to shut down. Snow caves can trap exhaust fumes and push them back into the house, dumping toxic substances into your living space over time.

Just because you shoveled it once or you think there is not enough snow, make sure you are keeping an eye on the vent. You can remove the snow yourself with a shovel or snowblower, but the key is to keep an eye on your exterior exhaust vents and intakes to prevent any snow from building up around these intakes.


Aside from managing the snow yourself each morning during the winter or installing an A-frame around your vents, you can also call a hvac company near me like Duncklee Cooling & Heating. We can walk you through best practices for preventative care for your furnace or water heater when snow is involved. If it has snowed and you’re experiencing problems with your heating, we’ll also be able to help you fix it and help you figure out how to prevent snow from blocking your exhaust vents or air intakes in the future.