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Prevent house fires: Keep your furnace serviced

Servicing heaters is just like visiting the dentist. They must happen annually.

BRYAN, Texas — Just like your annual doctor visits, your furnace also needs to be checked each year. 

Most of us don’t think twice about our heater until it gets cold. One local technician said you need to start getting it serviced in the fall so that its ready to go when you need it.

“You want to make sure the gas pressures are proper in your furnaces," said Cody Smith. Smith is a HVAC service technician with Malek. "You want to make sure your heat exchanger is not cracked. When it’s cracked and you are burning the natural gas or your propane, what will happen is when the flame burns, it will create carbon monoxide as a byproduct."

The carbon monoxide can then enter your airflow throughout your house, and you can get carbon monoxide poisoning. Keeping your heater clean is important so it can function properly.

“Rust on the heat exchanger, that’s a tell-tale sign that it’s cracked, and it’s got some issues," Smith explained. "We’re also checking your flame censor, a lot of corrodible build up on that and when that happens, even though your furnace is working fine, it won’t allow your furnace to start because it’s not sensing the flame."

Portable heaters can also be dangerous if left unattended. Gerald Burnett, the Assistant Fire Marshal with the Bryan Fire Department said if you're using one of these portable heaters, follow these guidelines.

"Make sure you’re not plugging that into something that it's not rated for. You plug a heater into an extension cord, you could run into a problem where you overload that cord," said Burnett. "If we put it too close to combustibles, we’re probably going to have a problem with things wanting to burn in our house."

He said to keep a portable heater at least three feet away from combustibles like curtains. Burnett added that you should not put them in front of doorways to block your entries, and always have a plan in case of an emergency. 

“If you’re not someone that’s capable of using a fire extinguisher, don’t," Burnett said. "Just practice your escape plan and make sure everyone knows how to get out, and remember if you have a fire, call 911, that’s what we’re there for,” said Burnett.

The Bryan Fire Department saidcheck your smoke detectors and make sure they are working. If you want to learn how to use a fire extinguisher, they will also teach you.