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sweaterIt isn’t uncommon for people to enjoy the crisp cool temperatures of Fall. After the long hot months of summer, it makes sense to delight in cozy sweaters and warm comfortable jackets. As we layer on those comfortable layers, it makes sense to put off turning on the furnace, especially when temperatures are still relatively mild.

It is tempting to delay turning up the heat in Autumn. It is too cool for air conditioning, after all. The quick addition a soft sweater makes the cooler temperatures bearable without needing to fire up the furnace. For the budget conscious homeowner, enjoying mild temperatures without running the HVAC system, is a painless way to cut energy costs.

However, you don’t want to wait until the first freeze to turn on your furnace. A lot can go wrong while your heating unit is on summer break, so you need to test your system to make sure it is in good working order before it is too late.

Before You Turn on the Heat

Since your furnace has been sitting dormant for months, there are a few safety precautions you want to follow before you turn on your heat.

  • Check the area around your furnace for flammable materials. Many furnace fires are the result of paper, trash, paint, or other hazardous materials being left near a cool furnace.

  • Clean and vacuum the area around your furnace to remove dust and debris.

  • Before you switch on the heat, open a few windows throughout the house. The first heating cycle of the season often spreads a foul odor. The smell is caused by dust and lint that has settled on the heating elements throughout the summer.  When the furnace initially fires up, these particles burn away. The smell is usually harmless, although unpleasant, and usually dissipates quickly.

  • Once your furnace kicks on, let it run for at least ten minutes. The initial burning smell should begin to fade. If the smell continues or is strong, shut off the furnace immediately and call a professional for service.

  • Listen carefully for any odd or unusual sounds coming from your furnace. Troublesome sounds are a sign that your furnace needs servicing by a professional.


Fall is a Great Time for Routine Maintenance.

The beginning of the cold weather season is the perfect time to conduct a few routine maintenance tasks to ensure your system keeps you warm and snug all winter long.

  • Start with changing your HVAC filter. These filters should be changed regularly, usually every 30 days. Keeping a clean filter helps your system run safely and efficiently. Be sure to use a properly sized filter for your system. Ill-fitting filters can allow dirt to enter your unit.

  • Also, be sure to test your thermostat. If it is not properly controlling your furnace or accurately registering temperature, it could cause your system to run unnecessarily. If you have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to update your temperature settings for the cooler months.

  • Fall is the perfect time to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Malfunctioning home heating systems are a leading cause of home fires, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. If you do not have these important life-saving devices in appropriate locations throughout your home, have them installed immediately.

While it is tempting to just cuddle up in a warm sweater and keep the furnace off for as long as possible, don’t wait too long. The longer you wait, the less time you’ll have to repair your system if something isn’t working properly. Be sure to call your local HVAC professionals to schedule a system tune-up or repairs so you won’t get left out in the cold this winter.