Firing up supplemental heat sources safely

ANNVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) — As cold evening temperatures start to set in on a regular basis, more people are beginning to use supplemental heat sources.

“By far, the most popular is gas, whether it be propane or natural gas,” said Robert Herr of North Forge Home Heating in Annville. “It is more convenient for customers, less maintenance.”

Herr says wood pellet stoves rank second in popularity and offer an environmentally friendly and clean source of heat. Many gas and pellet stoves are fully programmable with thermostats to keep a consistent temperature throughout a single room or home. There are also modern systems designed to burn traditional wood logs.

“As long as it is installed correctly and maintained correctly, it is as safe as anything else in your house,” Herr said.

Firefighters echo the recommendations of stove manufacturers, suggesting annual cleaning and safety checks.

“Usually, it is a busy time of year for us,” said Assistant Chief Michael Borrell of the Union Hose Company of Annville. “People will turn their systems on for the first time for the year, and either the creosote is all clogged up in the pipes from the previous season or there is a lot of dust in there. We get the nuisance calls when smoke backs up into the home and people think their house is on fire.”

Borrell says scheduling maintenance during the off-season is smart and will save stove users time and money. An emergency visit from a supplemental heat service specialist during the busy winter season can cost hundreds of dollars more than a maintenance visit in the late summer or early fall when call volume is low.

“A chimney sweep may be an option, but typically you can rely on the business that sold you the stove to take the best care of your maintenance,” Herr said.

Borrell also recommends changing the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

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