Before you crank up your furnace this fall, make sure your furnace is ready. According to FEMA, heating is second only to cooking as the leading culprit behind residential fires in the fall and winter months.  There are several things you can do to prevent heating-related fires.

Generally speaking, there are three leading factors in ignition: operational error, misuse of heating equipment and mechanical failure. For starters, before the first hard freeze hits, it’s a good idea to fire up your furnace and make sure everything’s running smoothly. Pick a mild day when you can open the windows and air out that musty odor that emanates from a furnace that’s been idle for the summer months.

With furnace fires, something as simple as a ball of lint trapped in the heating ducts can start trouble. Thus, routine maintenance—at least yearly—is key. Have a professional cleaning and restoration service check your ductwork for any obstructions or buildup; they have professional-grade vacuum equipment that ensures a thorough cleaning. It’s also recommended to schedule an annual house call for your furnace (especially if it’s an older model) by an HVAC professional, who will perform a careful inspection and make sure everything is up to code.

Stock up on properly sized furnace filters and change them often! It’s a small task that can make a big difference in safety, not to mention the health of your family and friends—especially allergy sufferers—by providing improved air quality. On average, it’s suggested that furnace filters should be changed every three to four months.

Here are a few more tips to consider while trying to stay toasty:

  • Remove all flammable materials and chemicals from the area surrounding your furnace
  • Be aware of changes in the air, such as an unusual odor, that may indicate your furnace is on the fritz
  • Newer furnaces have a hot-surface ignition system which is safer than old pilot-light systems; however, even newer models should be regularly maintained for safety
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly; close them when water appears
  • Swap out your old system for a programmable thermostat for energy and cost savings

We at RMIA, Inc. hope you have a safe and warm Fall!

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