Preventing home heating fires this winter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Preventing home heating fires this winter

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

It's that time of year again -- people are turning off their AC and firing up the furnace. But as the heat kicks in, so does your risk of a home fire. Fireplaces, furnaces, and portable space heaters are among the leading causes of a residential fire, second only to cooking.

Firefighters say, a few simple steps now could prevent a dangerous situation this winter. That starts with calling a heating expert. We caught up with one at the home of Mary Kay and Bob Klieman in Waterloo.

"Right now we're checking heat exchanges out, making sure everything is all safe for the upcoming months," said Russ Schellhorn, an HVAC inspector for Fereday Heating and Cooling.

Fereday has a list of customers, like the Klieman's, set up for automatic inspections twice a year. Schellhorn said this is one area of your home which absolutely requires a professional eye.

"Make sure everything is venting okay if you have an older furnace. Check the chimney's out, make sure there's no obstructions in there," said Schellhorn.

Firefighters say, once the experts take a look, it's up to you to keep area around the furnace free of flammable objects.

"They're usually in a utility room. It's easy for that to collect clutter. So to keep that area around it free and clear," said Waterloo Fire Rescue Lt. Troy Resor.

The Klieman's furnace gets an "a-okay" from Schellhorn. Meaning they can enjoy the heat, knowing no matter how cold it gets, they're "good to go for the winter!" as Mary Kay put it.

A few things to keep in mind outside over the next few months include keeping the furnace vent on the outside of your home clear of snow. If you do have a wood burning fireplace or stove, discard any hot ashes immediately in an outdoor metal container (one that's away from your home) before you go to sleep. They can re-ignite, causing an unintentional fire or forcing carbon monoxide to build up in your home.

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