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Prep your heating system for winter

The experts are predicting a wet and cold winter this year. So, we thought this was the perfect time to remind you of what kinds of maintenance your heating system might need. For some, what follows are easy checks, for others it may involve calling a handy man. Either way, ensuring a safely heated house for the winter is a good idea!


Various aspects of heating a home are some of the leading causes of home fire deaths, but a few simple safety tips can make all the difference.

Half of home heating fires occur during the months of December, January and February. So, now is an especially good time to address any concerns. Here are some heating safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment such as a fireplace, furnace, wood stove or portable space heater.

  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

  • Always turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.

  • Wait for ashes to be cool before putting them into a metal container. And, keep that container a safe distance from your home.

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.

  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do so. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • In addition to having smoke alarms, also install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance! Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department and gas company. Knowing how to turn off the gas at your meter is an important prevention measure nearly anyone can do!

  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

Other things to consider include always opting for seasoned wood in your wood-burning stove or fireplace. By burning seasoned wood, creosote doesn’t build up so quickly inside your chimney. (And, as always, we recommend that you keep firewood stored at least 25 feet from your home to help keep the insects out!)

Here are some more specifics on preparing heating devices to safely and efficiently work this winter.


Many people on the Twin Harbors have electric baseboard heaters or wall register (cadet) heaters. These need some attention at the beginning of the heating season.

When we aren’t using the heaters during the summer months, we can become lax in keeping flammable items too near them.

So, clean your wall register (cadet) or baseboard-type heaters of dust and foreign objects. Then, as mentioned above, maintain three feet of clearance from the heat source.

Even if you have started them up for the season, if you haven’t dusted them off, take a warm day to turn them off and give them a thorough inspection and dusting.


If you use propane in your home for cooking and/or heating, now is a good time to make sure you’ve got plenty in the tank before heading into our chilly season.

It’s also a great time to service and inspect your LP insert or furnace appliance. Just like any other heating appliances, maintain distance between it and any type of combustibles including furniture, curtains, papers, etc.

While not often installed in newer homes, plenty of homes on the Twin Harbors still have oil furnaces

If that applies to you, it’s important to have your furnace serviced, cleaned and inspected before the winter begins. Not only will the maintenance make your furnace more efficient – saving you money – it will also help prevent the hassle of having it break down when you least expect it. Additionally, having your furnace serviced cleaned and inspected, can help prevent fire.

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