Tips on home heating

Tips on home heating


With the heating season upon us, now is the time to make sure everything is functioning properly with your home heating system. A furnace that does not work correctly can be life-threatening for you and your family. If you are considering installing a new system or upgrading the efficiency of your current one, there are a few things you should know.

The two most common types of systems are forced air or boiler (hot water or steam). These use a number of different fuels: typically gas, both natural and LP, and electricity. Additionally, kerosene, oil, coal and wood are used; however, they, along with gas can present a danger. Under certain conditions, these appliances can produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas formed when these fuels are burned. However, with proper installation and maintenance, they are safe. That is key because exposure to high levels of CO can cause death. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to flu: headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness as well as shortness or breath.

The most efficient furnace is one that is sized for the house. Forced-air systems use ducts and an air blower to circulate warm air. In a hot water system, the boiler heats water and circulates it using a one-or two-pipe system or a “series loop.” Either boiler system uses a pipe to supply radiators with hot water and returns the cold water to the boiler to be re-circulated.

The Better Business Bureau received 1,608 complaints on heating contractors in the past two years. Some of these complaints were caused by people rushing into a contract before reviewing their options or failing to check out the reputation of the contractor, and they ended up doing business with a company that had a poor BBB history. Only 65 percent of the complaints processed were settled to the satisfaction of the complainants; considerably below the 84 percent settlement factor we had from the other 75,000 formal complaints we handled in the past two years.

One serious situation the BBB has encountered involved a company using scare tactics in an effort to fraudulently convince a person to purchase a new gas furnace, claiming the unit being inspected was dangerous. If you suspect that you’re being scammed, call your gas provider; they will send out an inspector to determine whether your furnace is actually unsafe.

Trust is important for both parties, and it should not be taken for granted. If you do not have a heating and air conditioning contractor with whom you do business, call the BBB to obtain a list of members in the Rockford area or look them up on our web site at

Don’t wait until the really cold weather; have your unit inspected now. As we say, “check it out.” You may save yourself money, time and aggravation.

To contact the BBB, call 815/963-2222 or go to our website, We are located at 810 E. State St., Suite 303, in the River District. For membership information, call 815/490-9283.

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