For weeks we have been trying the escape the heat. Most likely, the last thing anyone is thinking about is their furnace, but when temperatures plunge homeowners might regret not thinking ahead.

Dan Mihalovich, vice president of product services for Sears HomeCentral, the “Service Side of Sears,” says most furnaces are not ready for the cold months that winter has in store. He recommends that homeowners routinely maintain their furnaces year-round to ensure efficient heating when they need it and consider replacing their furnace, if it is more than 10 years old.

“Whether your furnace is simple or sophisticated, routine maintenance is critical to assure its safe, efficient operation,” Mihalovich says. “More than a few people have suffered through a cold winter’s night without heat because they neglected to think ahead in the fall and didn’t realize we can provide emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Mihalovich is not alone in his advice. A number of organizations, including the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, local utilities and fire departments recommend that frequently used appliances – such as the home furnace – be inspected at least once a year to look for signs of wear and tear.

In fact, the Sears vice president compares a home’s heating system with another machine you depend on in the cold winter months – the automobile.

“Everyone understands the importance of a well-charged battery and sufficient anti-freeze during the winter,” he says.

“You want your car to start, even on the coldest day. The same is true for your furnace – you depend on it the most when weather conditions are their worst.

“The steps you take now should get you through even the coldest nights in comfort, while you avoid the expense of emergency service,” Mihalovich says.

He suggests that a furnace check up by a trained specialist should top the fall “to-do” list.

SAFETY

Rust, corrosion, holes, gaps, debris, and blockages in your flue system can interfere with the proper release of combustion gases to the outside of your home, which can create dangerous conditions. However, with proper maintenance this should not be a problem, Mihalovich says.

Having a furnace inspected regularly has an additional benefit – safety. Mihalovich says a trained specialist will test all safety circuits for proper function, inspect all wiring for loose or deteriorated connections, check ventilation and, for gas systems, confine that ignition and burning mechanisms work accurately.

CHECK-UP CHECKLIST

1. The fall checkup should include an inspection of all moving parts, a test run and a change of air filters. He says changing air filters is especially important prior to the winter months.

2. A pre-winter inspection also helps ensure your heating system is operating efficiently, which contributes to lower utility bills and keeps the furnace operating longer.

“During the winter, when your storm windows are in and all the doors are closed, there’s a lot less fresh air circulating through the house,” Mihalovich says. “That’s why, for reasons of operating efficiency as well as health, a new furnace air filter is essential.”

WHEN YOU NEED

A NEW FURNACE

Is your furnace more than 10 years old? Does the racket from your furnace keep you up at night? Does the air from your heater not feel quite as warm as it once did?

If the answer to any one of these questions is “yes,” you might want to consider replacing your furnace, says Walt Hilker, sales and marketing manager for Sears HomeCentral. “Once a furnace gets to a certain age, it becomes even more important to have it inspected regularly,” he says.

A new unit won’t just keep you and your family warm, it will also cut down on your monthly utility bill. “Today’s units are much more efficient than those of the past, which translates into a lot of money saved.”

Sear HomeCentral offers free inspections, which Hilker recommends homeowners take advantage of early in the fall so they won’t need Sears emergency installation services during the season’s first cold spell.

Sears HomeCentral is a division of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sears HomeCentral is the nation’s leading repair services provider with more than 17,000 product service technicians and repair specialists serving more than 15 million homes annually

from 800 locations.


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