Safety tips to consider when cranking up the furnace - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Safety tips to consider when cranking up the furnace

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It's odd to think that nearly two weeks ago San Luis Obispo was 115 degrees, but temperatures are starting to cool down as the winter months approach, and that means it's time to crank up the heat. 

For some, turning on their furnace for the first time might result in a service call. Austin Streamland, lead installer for Smart72, says those are the majority of calls he's been receiving the past few weeks. 

"We're getting a lot of calls about people's heaters not working," Streamland said.

Last Wednesday, he was replacing a furnace at a home in Arroyo Grande. Without regular maintenance, those have a life expectancy of 15 years. 

"That's when you really need to be checking it twice a year for safety, getting it serviced regularly," Streamland said.

Monday afternoon, Ashley and Morgan Marshall of San Luis Obispo, made the call to get their decades-old furnace inspected.

"We want to make sure everything is working effectively and efficiently," Ashley said. "It makes loud noises, it comes on really quickly like that 'whoosh' sound. There's some rooms that are warmer and cooler."

While the Marshalls' furnace wasn't busted, James Lamon with Wighton's Heating and Air says there are a few things that could keep you from getting warm this winter. 

"It could be a problem with the heat exchanger, it could be a problem with the main fan that circulates throughout the home and any of the electronic components that monitor those functions," Lamon said. 

Swapping out your air filters is easy maintenance you can do yourself.

"I usually recommend taking a look at them in 3-6 months and gauging your usage based off of that," Lamon said. 

For those who are using a space heater instead, San Luis Obispo City Fire Chief Garret Olson has a warning.

"We know that space heaters will account for approximately 1/3 of all house fires and sadly they account for almost 3/4 of fire fatalities," Olson said.

That's why it's important to clean it, make sure cords aren't frayed, or leave it unattended.

"Clear space three feet around your space heater to make sure nothing in the area catches fire," Olson said.

Keeping a well-maintained chimney is equally as important. Olson says to do the following to ensure your safety this winter:

  • Have your chimney inspected once a year
  • Don't overload fire box with too much wood
  • Use a screen to catch embers
  • Fire should be out before you go to bed

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the chief also urges residents to never use their oven to warm their home. It can create excessive carbon monoxide in homes. 

It's a good idea to also change out your carbon monoxide monitors every eight years and your smoke detectors every ten. Plus, batteries should be replaced in both every six months.

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