Mother Nature's decision to cut fall short and skip ahead to winter has folks in northern Indiana scrambling for heating technicians, reports ABC 57.
As for Elkhart County, temperatures have been slightly below average this week, according to records from the Weather Channel's website. Usually the weather is five to 10 degrees warmer this time of year.
Henry Smith Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, a 24-hour service company based in Elkhart, reports seeing an uptick in calls for service. Most of the calls, according to Stephanie Larson, are for leaks, cracks, filter changes or other preventable issues.
"Get (furnaces) checked twice a year. It doesn't matter if it's at the start of the season," Larson said. "Have a licensed technician check for efficiency or for cracks or leaks. There's a lot of things they're able to check."
Larson warned pet-owners to be especially alert because animal dander can cause filters to clog more frequently.
ABC 57 interviewed James Olesen of Great Lakes Heating and Air Conditioning. He estimated about 80 percent of all furnace problems can be traced back to dirty filters, which should be cleaned regularly.
Regular maintenance not only keeps heaters in working order but could also prevent fires or carbon monoxide poisoning, said Lt. Aaron Gerber from the Elkhart Fire Department.
Gerber offered the following tips to keep your home safe this winter:
- Keep your furnace cleaned and checked out by a professional each year
- For electric space heaters, make sure they're clear from any combustible material, like clothing, trash or any other debris
- Don't use any kind of kerosene heaters or gas heaters indoors, because that could cause carbon monoxide poisoning
- Make sure everyone has carbon monoxide detectors if you have any gas appliances
For tips on gas- and wood-fueled fireplaces and other heating tips, see The Elkhart Truth's story from 2010.