Living in the Northeast provides us with many luxuries, and many challenges. Most recently, New England experienced a blizzard that left the entire region paralyzed. But not defeated; after all, we are New Englanders. We have seen worse. What is different now then just a few years ago though has to do with the appliances in your home that provide you with heat and hot water. Just as it is important to remember to clear deep or drifted snow from your dryer vent, it now may be necessary to make sure that your water heater, furnace, or boiler vent is also clear of any snow that may have blocked it. Years ago, these appliances drafted through a chimney in houses to a point above the roof line, and little thought was given to keeping the flue clear. With the advent of fuel efficient devices in recent years, sidewall venting has become the norm. Typically, installers try to vent the appliances above the local snow line (as determined from town to town), but it is not always possible. If snow has blocked one of these vents, safety devices on the appliance should shut the device down until the vent is cleared, and the unit restarted. The safety devices are there to help prevent carbon monoxide from entering the home. During this past blizzard, most people went to bed with barely 3″ of accumulation, but woke up to nearly two feet of fallen snow, and drifts as high as six feet on their property. We had several calls over the weekend from clients with no heat or hot water. After instructing them how to clear their vents and restart their appliances, all of our clients were able to correct the problem themselves. Luckily, one elderly client had a neighbor that did this for them. The moral of the story is to remember to keep these vents clear if you have them on your home, and to help your neighbors who may not be able to do so themselves. Also, you should inspect these vents periodically to ensure that insects or birds do not take up residence in them…we have seen it.