Turning on Your Furnace for the First Time

Heating expert says people should clean air filters, area around furnace


On the first cold night of the season, many North Texans made their first trip to their furnaces in months.

The calls were already picking up at Total Air and Heat Co. in Plano on Wednesday.

“Oh, our phones will ring off the wall tomorrow, without any question,” said Steve Lawten, president of the company. “There will be a lot of people who waited to the last second to turn their furnaces on.”

He said there are a few things people should do to keep their heaters running smoothly.

“Make sure your air filter is clean," Lawten said. "I would also suggest making sure there is not any kind of flammable items laying around your furnace.”

Lawten said clothes and household items such as brooms that are near the furnace can start a fire.

He also suggested testing the furnace now, before the extremely cold air arrives.

Just remember -- it’s probably going to smell.

“A lot of times, furnaces -- if you don't have a good air filter -- will build up dust during the summer, and the first time you turn it on, ... you’ll think there is a fire, but there could be just a little bit of lint burning,” Lawten said.

But if the burning smell lingers for more than a few minutes, it could indicate a serious problem, he said.

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