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Prepare Your Furnace and Fireplace for Winter

Experts say regular maintenance is required for best use and safety.

The temperatures outside are falling, which means most people are turning on their heat or lighting the fireplace. Experts in the field, though, say you should not just turn on the furnace or light up the fire - not without some preparation.

"People don't think about their a/c and furnace, but those are probably used more often than your car is," Margaret Lockwood, secretary, Lockwood Heating said.

She offered the following furnace tips

  • have the furnace and air conditioner cleaned and inspected by a professional once a year
  • change the filters on your furnace once a month
  • have a carbon monoxide detector in your home in the event that a furnace or any other heat source that could produce carbon monoxide malfunctions.

Cindy Wilson, Minooka Fire Protection District fire and life safety education coordinator said having regular inspections and maintenance is what keeps a fireplace in safe working order as well.

"Make sure that (residents), at least before they use it in the fall, have it cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep," she said.

In addition, Wilson said homeowners must be careful to keep ashes in a fireproof container.

"If they do clean it out, they need to put the ashes in a metal bucket, fill it up with water and leave it away from the house for a day or two," she said. "We’ve gone to many garage fires because of that."

Once the ash dries out, Wilson said it can be used in a garden as fertilizer.

In addition to fireplaces, Wilson told residents to be sure to turn off space heaters when the leave the house and to make sure there is plenty of room between the heaters and things like curtains or rugs.

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