Keeping your heater running strong each year

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Furnace experts share tips for keeping your heater running strong during the first cold snap of each season.

People all over the Houston area are bracing for the first big cold snap of the season, and that means heaters are going on for the first time in most homes.

"If you make sure the filter is clean and you turn the system on, and it doesn't come on immediately, turn it off. Give it a couple of minutes and then bring it back on, because if there was air in the gas line, it's not going to immediately come on," advises Henry Newsom.

Newsom is a HVAC technician with One Call Houston. He says the second time should be the charm.

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"It's going to purge the air out and the system should come on. If after that it doesn't come on, you're going to have to have service. There's nothing you can do...to get a gas furnace to come on."

He says if you notice a burning smell the first time you turn it on, it's normal.

"When you turn it on, you can expect that the dust buildup that's gathered over the cooling season is going to burn off. If it doesn't immediately come on, turn the thermostat off, give it a minute and then bring it back on."

Sometimes that burning dust sets off smoke alarms. If it doesn't come on after that, shut it off and call a technician out. He tells us the technicians at One Call have done about five to six checkups and 'no heat' calls each day this week.

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"They're paying attention to the weather report, they're looking up north at what's headed this way."

And they're getting ready.

He showed us a furnace in a La Porte attic. While checking the filter, he found a surprise.

"You slide it out. It's on a track, and this homeowner definitely needs to change his filter. We'll get him a new one and get it taken care of."

He has a few other tips for you between now and the next cold snap:
  • If you haven't had your furnace serviced in the last six months, get it done.
  • Don't store anything on your furnace.
  • If your furnace is more than 18 years old, you should think seriously about replacing it.
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