As the cold season approaches everyone breaks into the winter storage cabinets to take their favorite jackets to the cleaners and check if the scarves they got in the last sale are still trendy. Winter boots are checked for size and leggings are checked for holes. The girls start stocking up on cheap fruit to make jam and pickles while the boys start collecting and chopping firewood to feed the old faithful furnace. However, modern houses and technology often makes us forget to prep the old furnace for the season. After spending months without being fired up, the furnace needs some TLC to get it geared up for the three month marathon ahead of it. Here are some things to consider before lighting up the furnace for winter.

Cleanliness

After months of lying dormant, the furnace is probably dirty. Air duct and AC system cleaning in warm weather often does not cover deep cleaning of the furnace. Make sure you open up the furnace and vacuum clean it thoroughly. Accumulated lint and dust could cause an accidental fire in the ducts when you start using the furnace.

Airflow

Open up and clear out the air ducts and clean the registers to make sure you have constant air flow to and from the furnace. Any blockages may cause the furnace to consume oxygen from your living areas, posing a risk to your respiratory health. In the same breath, take this opportunity to check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide poisoning is very dangerous -especially to children – and the detectors are your first line of defense. Always replace the batteries just before winter, because the detectors will need to be active throughout the season.

Flammable items

If your furnace room doubles up as a laundry room in the winter to help you dry clothes, be sure to train your family members (especially the children and pets) not to play near it when it is lit. Be careful to keep the room well organised and to keep flammable items and liquids away from the furnace.

Filter replacement

Inspect and replace the furnace filters if necessary to make sure it works efficiently. Air intake and efficient heat distribution is vital; it will save you money during the winter and prevent you from running out of wood mid season.

If your furnace is in the living room, it is a great place to sit together and enjoy family time during the long winter nights. You should collect a bunch of story books, jigsaw puzzles and board games to play with your children and build your interpersonal bonds. Winter is your season to catch up on the time they spent playing outside in the summer. It is your opportunity to pull out your childhood stories and pour out age-old wisdom. If the furnace is working properly, they will not want to be in any other room because it’s the warmest place in the house, so you can enjoy entertaining a captive audience.