Heater ready for a cold snap? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Heater ready for a cold snap?

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

October 28, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Heating fires are the second leading cause of all house fires.

Eighty-six percent of those fires are confined to chimneys, flues, fuel boxes, or boilers. With temperatures expected to be below 40° for the next three nights, it's likely you'll turn on your heat for the first time, but have you taken the necessary steps to avoid potential trouble.

South Georgia's cold snap has many bundled up outside and at home they're turning on the heat. If you haven't had your system checked out, it could spell trouble.

"Gas units, something as small as a spider web in a burner won't stop the unit from operating, but it will really decrease your efficiency," said Billy Goodson, Pollock Heating and Cooling Owner.

The earlier than usual cold temperatures caught many off guard. Home heating companies like Pollock are working 12 hour days and are a day behind in calls. Before you turn on the heat there are things you can do before an annual inspection.

"Keep the filter clean, that's in summer or winter, keeping the filter clean is a major thing and if they have a heat pump making sure the coals are clean outside and unobstructed make sure that there are not leaves or trash outside the unit," said Goodson.

It's not just the installed equipment that can cause a problem, firefighters say this fire last week on West Gordon was caused by the careless use of a space heater. Any type of portable heating unit needs plenty of space.

"Most manufacturers recommend you keep at least three feet of clearance space around it," said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell. Portable heaters along with stoves should never be used to heat a room.

"They're designed to heat a small area and when you put them in a situation where they can't possibly maintain that temperature then they continually run and if they continually run they're going to break down at some point and overheat," said Carswell.

Fire officials say any space heater that requires fuel should be filled up outside. Heating professionals and firefighters say an ounce of prevention can keep your home safe and warm through spring.

With daylight saving time November first, fire officials remind you now is a good time to replace the batteries inside your smoke detector. you should have a working smoke detector on every level of your home to alert you to potential fire hazards.

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