Experts offer safety tips for firing up the furnace

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COLUMBIA, P.A. --- Christopher Peris, owner of Peris Heating and Cooling mechanics says this is the time of year they know "they're going to work late.”

When the cold weather comes around, they get between ten and fifteen calls, per day, for heating maintenance.

"Cold weather makes furnaces run longer and they tend to fail more often," said Peris.

He also said some parts of a furnace don't necessarily need professional eyes to check.

He said the "biggest thing a home owner can do" is check the air filter to make sure it's clear for good air flow.

Also, he recommended periodic checks, especially with water-based furnaces.

"Getting down in the basement once a day or once a week would be ideal. Some people never look at it or don't go down that way and leaks can develop and they'll have water everywhere," said Peris.

He added banging and clanging are not good signs, potentially signaling a deteriorated blower motor.

"I hear that all the time, oh yeah, that's been making that noise for a while. So when you hear something abnormal, that's the time to look into it," said Peris.

Chief Doug Kemmerly with the Columbia Borough Fire Department said to give the furnace some breathing room.

He recommended a three-foot "safe zone" from clutter.

"Products that are stacked or stored close to the furnace sometimes start to heat up and then they start to break down, then they start to burn and combust causing, obviously a house fire," said Chief Kemmerly.

Kemmerly said the issue they saw the most last winter was dangerous carbon monoxide levels in homes.

"I remember six in a matter of three blocks of carbon monoxide incidences," said Kemmerly.

He said getting an updated alert system can keep a warm home, safe.

"Having a good operating, new battery carbon monoxide detector in your home will possibly save lives," said Kemmerly.

He added the Columbia Borough Fire Department provides and installs smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in residents' homes, free of charge.

It is limited based on what they currently have in supply.

Kemmerly said to call the department at (717) 684-5844 and dial extension 108.

Leave a message and a phone number and they will call back with more information.

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