Colder air spurs calls for fireplace, furnace services

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Colder air settled in the metro this week, but it won’t stay for too long. Still, experts say it’s a good reminder that now is the time to start preparing for the colder months ahead, and that includes getting fireplaces and furnaces checked and serviced.

Greg Miller says the phones at his business, Greg’s Fireplace Service, were ringing off the hook Tuesday when Omaha’s high temperature was only forecast to reach 53 degrees. Miller expects close to 100 calls total for the day.

“The first cold front is definitely the big surge in calls,” he said.

Many of those calls are customers scheduling their annual fireplace safety inspection. Miller says that’s the most important thing to do before you fire up your own for the first time in months. If the safety inspection is not done, it can lead to consequences.

“When we come out and check them, we know very quickly if it’s in good working condition and safe," said Miller. "We want to prevent house fires and any injuries that could result from that.”

Miller says there are red flags to watch for: excessive soot on the glass or the logs, animals or nests in the chimney or fireplace, and if the fireplace doesn’t turn on right away. If you encounter any of those problems, Miller suggests you don’t try to service it yourself and, instead, leave the heavy lifting to the experts.

“It’s a pretty specific technical job to properly service a fireplace," he said. "When we come out and do an inspection and service we completely dismantle it and take the logs and burners and everything out, and service and the pilot light and burner, and we test all the fittings for gas leaks and check the venting and the operation of it,” said Miller.

Homeowners can do some of the basic maintenance like cleaning the glass. Miller also suggests all fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the home are in working order.

The colder air created a similar narrative for the heating and cooling business.

“Whenever there’s a big shift in temperature we always get quite a few calls coming in,” said Gunnar Guenette, the marketing manager with Getzschmans.

Guenette says when it comes to your furnace and the colder months, it’s better to get it checked early.

“Once it gets really cold, there are so many calls coming in that it’s hard to get to people as quickly as we’d like to,” he said. “If you can get ahead of the curve, get these things checked out prior to the big rush to make sure you don’t get stuck without heat on a real cold night.”

A bi-annual tune-up is what’s typically suggested when experts will change the filter, check the airflow of the system, and make sure it’s operating correctly. Guenette says without proper maintenance there are safety issues that can happen and the efficiency rating of the unit can drop dramatically.

“Most people in Nebraska have gas heat,” he said. “The main thing is to make sure the unit is cleaned out properly in the fall to prevent fire, for one, and, for two, to make sure that the efficiency is there for the system to make sure that it runs right and keeps your utility bills in the right range.”

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