It was 80 degrees on Oct. 31, but cold temperatures are coming. It was supposed to be at or around freezing on Sunday morning, Nov. 3.
Whether we are ready for cold weather or not, our heating systems must be ready, or we will literally be left in the cold. The level of service needed for your heating system depends on a few things:
•What type of system do you have?
•What is the age of your system?
•What preventative maintenance did you do at the end of last year’s heating season?
•If applicable, when was the last time that you changed your system’s filter?
It may mean no more than switching your thermostat from cool to heat, but you need to do that to ensure that it is working properly. Remember, the first time that you turn on your heat, you will smell the dust being burned off in your duct system. This is normal. If there is a problem with your heat coming on, that is the time to get it serviced.
If you use a wood-burning fireplace insert or a fireplace, you will want to make sure that the flue is clear. If there is no chimney cap, then the possibility of a nest in your chimney exists. Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year and possibly more, depending on use. A licensed and insured professional should clean and inspect a chimney. There will be many fire responses due to issues involving chimneys, across the country, with some resulting in major residential fires.
If your heating system is burning any type of fuel, then you should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Here is a quick lesson on carbon monoxide (CO):
•CO is a colorless, odorless gas.
•CO poisoning can occur acutely (a one-time large dose exposure) or cumulatively (multiple doses over a period of time).
•A body’s hemoglobin has a 200 times greater affinity to CO than oxygen, meaning that CO will readily attach to hemoglobin.
•Exposure to CO can be fatal.
Although a CO detector may activate falsely, one must not take an activation for granted. Some detectors actually show a CO reading, but if the detector activates, call 911 and let firefighters come and take readings.
If CO is detected in a home, the home must be ventilated and the source must be found. If family members are in the home when CO is detected, then they must be evaluated for CO levels in their bloodstream.
To clear a CO detector, it usually must be taken outside. Follow the instructions that come with the detector to understand proper operation.
If you have a supplemental or secondary heating system, you will want to make sure that everything is operational. Whether your secondary system is used to supplement your primary system, or the secondary becomes the primary for a period of time, you need to make sure that it is working at optimum efficiency.
You read in many of my columns that you must have an adequate number of properly placed and properly operating smoke alarms. Clocks will change before you read this, so let me remind you, change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Test smoke alarms at least once a month. A properly operating smoke alarm is designed to activate when smoke is detected. Fire responses will go up because of issues with heating systems.
Take the time to check yours, and do it sooner rather than later.