Maintaining your heating systems will keep your home safe in the cold

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — As the weather cools down, many of us may be turning on our heating systems for the first time this season—but this essential home function can be dangerous.

“We always get an uptick [of house fires] in the fall,” said Pasco Fire Department’s Community Risk Reduction spokesperson Ben Shearer. “A lot of that is due to heating systems.”

By taking a few precautions, you can prevent a house fire. Here are some tips to keep your family safe this winter.

Keep your heating system maintained

With central heat and air systems, it’s important to keep your heaters cleaned out. Lint and dirt can build up in the ventilation system. If too much dirt and lint accumulate, you could have a house fire.

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“[The] first time you use it in the year, in the winter, you may notice that little heat smell or burning smell,” Shearer said. “That’s an accumulation of dust and stuff on the heating coils.

“If you get too much stuff in there, too much dust in there, it’s not going to work and it can cause a fire.”

Officials suggest routinely cleaning and maintaining your heating equipment to lower the risk of a house fire.

Clear the areas around heating elements

If you have a portable heater or floorboard heating, you’ll want to keep the areas surrounding them clear of clutter. Objects that are too close to a heating element may get too warm, and spark a house fire.

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Fix electrical systems right away

Lights, vents, fans, and other electrical systems tend to be used more during the cooler months. If you see something that isn’t working correctly, don’t ignore it.

“A lot of times when we talk to people that have a fire, they’ll say ‘I noticed that it wasn’t working right last week, and I just never did anything about it,'” Shearer said. “So if you have an electrical system that isn’t working right, get it fixed before it causes an issue.”

Keeping things up to date and maintained can keep your home safe.

“People talk about ‘Well it costs money to get things serviced and maintained.’ But it costs a lot more if you have a house fire,” said Shearer.

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