(WKBN) — As temperatures begin to cool, it is important for homeowners to have their heating systems checked to ensure their home is not at risk for a fire.

Heating equipment is responsible for about one in six house fires, making it one of the leading causes of fires in U.S. homes, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Many of these fires can be prevented with regular maintenance, inspections and safety checks.

Glenn Gault, with Gault Heating and Cooling, and been installing heating and cooling systems in the Valley for years. He says things get busy this time of year.

“As the weather switches, our phones start ringing,” Gault said.

Michael Schranz, service manager for Gault, said this is the time of year when people find out there may be a problem with their system.

“It’s definitely a time where everybody is turning on their equipment for the first time and then realizing it isn’t working properly,” Schranz said.

Technicians say it is important to check the simple things like the batteries in your thermostat. Also, check for animal nests in ductwork and replace furnace filters. Dirty filters can put stress on your furnace.

“It’s causing stuff to go out of limits, causing your evaporator coil to drop below 32 degrees and start freezing,” Schranz said.

How often you change that filter depends on your furnace and the filter size.

“Twice a year if you have a four-inch. If it’s one inch, I would probably change it three to four times a year,” said Ryan Lee, installation coordinator.

The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Divisions of Industrial Compliance and State Fire Marshal are urging everyone to have their heating systems checked in public buildings and homes before turning them on.

“A little prevention goes a long way when it comes to heating safety,” State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon said. “We’re here to remind everyone that a well-maintained heating system is a safer one.”

Key tips for home furnace inspection and maintenance:

  • Schedule a professional inspection: Contact a qualified HVAC technician to inspect your furnace. They will check for any potential issues, such as worn-out components, gas leaks or blocked ventilation.
  • Replace air filters: Clean or replace air filters regularly. Clogged filters can restrict airflow, causing your furnace to work harder and potentially overheat.
  • Check for gas leaks: Ensure there are no gas leaks around your furnace. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, evacuate your premises immediately and call the gas company.
  • Clear the area: Keep the area around your furnace clean and free of flammable materials, such as cardboard boxes or paper.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order. Replace batteries if needed.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm: If you don’t already have one, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly if undetected.