As fall has settled in, cold weather is right around the corner. It is the time of the year when everyone needs to think about their heating sources, both primary and supplemental. Many of you are like me and you have already turned your heat on once or twice on the chillier mornings. This opportunity gave you some indication of whether or not your primary source of heat was working. For those of you with a heat pump, you should only need to change your filter(s), switch your thermostat to heat, and bump the temperature up.
For those of you who use gas heat, the question is where does the gas come from? The units that are fed by natural gas get it through a pipeline. The units that are fed by propane get that from a tank. It would do you well to check the level of propane in your tank. Changing the filters in your heating system is still necessary, no matter what type of system you have. You do want to make sure that you have not acquired any leaks in your gas-fired heating systems. If so, contact a service representative to come and fix the problem.
Some of you may heat with a woodstove. If so, now would be the time to get your chimney cleaned and inspected. Chimney fires will account for numerous residential fires throughout the winter. The older your chimney, or the fact that you have had a chimney fire in the past are reason enough to have your chimney inspected. Be sure to open the damper on the chimney before you start your first fire.
For those with electric heat, be prepared for the first time that your heat comes on. The dust that has settled on the elements will burn off, giving a burning smell throughout the house. You may even see a slight haze of smoke. Though I would never tell you not to call 9-1-1, you may want to give it a moment and see if the haze dissipates. The burning off of dust, a burned up air handler or a circuit board problem all present as a burning smell, but the latter two only dissipate when the unit is off.
Concerning supplemental heaters now is the time to check them for proper operation. Electric space heaters should be checked for frayed cords. If any problems are noted with these heaters, then they must be replaced. As a side note, all space heaters must be kept at least three feet from all combustibles. With kerosene heaters, you will need to clean these before use. You also want to make sure that only kerosene is used as the fuel. Keep in mind that kerosene heaters, as well as all other gas heaters, require proper ventilation.
I will say this whether it is needed or not, your oven is not a heating source for your home. The chances of someone getting burned, or something catching on fire, is great. Another thing to remember is that hair dryers are not foot warmers. Winter is the time of the year when fire units are their busiest. Do not contribute to the call load by being careless with your heat.
Since the clocks will fall back on Nov. 6, this is a good time to check your smoke alarms, and change the batteries where necessary. Remember, properly located and working smoke alarms are your greatest chance of surviving a residential fire, especially at night. The best of all worlds would be working smoke alarms, in conjunction with a residential sprinkler system, but that is a conversation for another day.