Care For Your Home Heating System


Does your chimney look like this one? If so, it’s still not too late, but your furnace requires maintenance now. And while you are at it, your chimney should be inspected.

If you have not had your furnace inspected and cleaned by a licensed and certified technician this year, you may want to consider the alternatives. As we head into the colder months your heating systems will be running at full capacity and have longer run cycles. If your furnace is not functioning properly, you will not be getting the best efficiency. But, you also risk a malfunction of your heating system. Typical furnace cleaning will cost about $125 from a licensed, certified technician.

In the case of an oil burner malfunction, the heating oil does not properly combust which will lead to heavy black smoke from your chimney, backing into your cellar and if let go could end up coating the inside of your home with a black oily residue. This may also be known as Oil burner puffbacks, sooting, and possibly explosions. This oily residue is also flammable and can lead to a furnace or chimney fire which could extend into your home. This is no different if you use coal, wood, pellets. If not burning efficiently, this will cause chimney build up and you risk damage to your system as well as your home.

If the fire department is dispatched and arrives on scene, we may request that your heating system is turned off till it is inspected by a licensed and certified contractor. This assures us your safety and neighbor’s safety. Until inspected and the issues addressed, you may not be able to stay at your home. If you need to call a contractor in the middle of the night or weekend for emergency services, you could be looking at double or even triple for an emergency call. Plus, additional parts may be need to be repaired or replaced and you could have a lot of cleaning to do. This could lead into the $1000’s.


The long run times over the winter produce soot that may adhere to the sides of the chimney and eventually fall to the base of a masonry chimney or directly into your heating system. Soot is a normal byproduct of combustion and is comprised of carbon and Sulphur. Sulphur, when mixed with rain water or moisture from the flue gases is absorbed into the flue tile and starts a deteriorating process called flaking or spalling. Also, the buildup of soot restricts the flow of gases which contains CO (carbon monoxide). CO may enter into your house instead of going up the chimney leading to CO poisoning and possibly death. If you have a stainless steel chimney or flue, the soot’s sulfuric acid will cause rust and corrosion. This will lead to pinholes in the metal flue allowing the byproducts of combustion to escape into the surrounding cavity. This could be heat which will lead to a fire or gases which could lead to CO poisoning.

This is also a good time to make sure your CO detectors are still within the service date and if battery operated, have a fresh battery. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that a CO detector be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep. Additional  CO detectors  can be placed on every level and in every bedroom of a home to provide extra protection against CO poisoning. You should not install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up. A detector should not be placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or in or near very humid areas such as bathrooms.

Please see our Fall Home Heating page for information on wood stoves, kerosene and electric heaters.