SIDNEY — While the summer of 2021 has left many experiencing record-breaking temperatures, the Sidney Department Fire and Emergency Services reminds residents that the changing of the seasons is just around the corner.
“Every fall, the Sidney Department of Fire and Emergency Services responds to numerous calls related to heating appliances that have not been properly serviced for the heating season. When furnaces and other heating appliances are put in operation after sitting idle through the summer, accumulated dust and debris can cause odors that result in the occupant becoming concerned and requesting that the fire department check their residence,” Sidney Fire Chief Chad Hollinger said.
According to Hollinger, heating equipment and chimneys should be inspected and serviced annually by a qualified professional. Making arrangements sooner, rather than later, to have appliances services can ensure occupants will enjoy the peace of mind that their heating appliances are in good working order when the cold arrives.
Additionally, the primary means of residential heating that are utilized in Sidney are furnaces and wood stoves or fireplaces. Both means of home heating require annual attention. Furnaces need to be annually maintained by a qualified professional to ensure that the unit is operating safely and efficiently.
“This preventative maintenance is sometimes neglected because of the cost of the service when in reality, the lack of service is actually more costly when considering decreased efficiency and expensive repairs due to inattention,” Hollinger said.
Wood stoves and fireplaces also require yearly service and maintenance by a qualified person. Chimney fires can occur when the flue pipe (chimney) is not cleaned and the inevitable buildup of creosote is not removed. Creosote is a flammable tar substance that accumulates on the inner lining of a chimney.
“Once heated to its ignition temperature, it can result in a significant fire that, at minimum, causes significant damage to the chimney structure and at worst can spread to the structure resulting in a house fire,” Hollinger said.
The wood stove and chimney should be properly cleaned and inspected by a qualified person before the heating season to remove any creosote and prevent potential house fires.
Hollinger added that space and kerosene heaters present their own unique challenges, and that those devices should only be utilized if they bear the compliance of a recognized testing laboratory such as the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Recognized testing, such as UL, confirms that space and kerosene heaters have undergone rigorous testing for safety and compliance with residential usage. Operating instructions provided in the unit’s manual should be adhered to regarding appropriate fuel and refueling, safe distances from combustibles, and shutdown procedures.
“Although the heating season is still weeks away, now is the time to prepare heating appliances for the upcoming fall and winter. As the old adage goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’,” Hollinger said. “Failing to care for these heating appliances can result in tragedy.”
The Sidney Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Fire Prevention Division has materials and information available to anyone who has questions or concerns regarding home heating.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Sidney Fire and Emergency Services Department, 222 W. Poplar St., Sidney.