Many residents got up Thursday morning and decided it was time to turn on the furnace.

Many residents got up Thursday morning and decided it was time to turn on the furnace.

With temperatures dipping into the low 40s, its time get home heating systems tuned up for fall and winter.

Either the homeowner or a hired professional can do the necessary preparation for safe operation, said Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer.

Most local contractors are giving reduced rates to check heating systems.

Filters should be changed to assure the furnace will be in optimum working order.

"The number one issue is to make sure your heating appliance is working as efficiently as possible," Kramer said.

Furnace blowers have been working all summer to help keep the house cool so it's necessary to get a new filter in place that will not restrict airflow.

If the filter is blocked the furnace will not get a good supply of air and that can lead to carbon monoxide issues, Kramer said.

Without a proper draft up the chimney, smoke and carbon monoxide can flow back into the house and cause serious health issues.

Since the blower motor has been working hard it should be serviced to assure it is working properly. Also, the furnace should be cleaned to guarantee maximum working efficiency.

Another furnace element is on the outside of the house. The flue cap helps prevent unwanted material from getting into the chimney. The cap can slip and block the chimney so it's a good idea to do a visual inspection and if necessary, move the cap back into proper position.

If a cap is out of place and the homeowner doesn't have the necessary equipment it is a good idea to get a professional to come and take care of the problem.

For the homeowner with a fireplace, the chimney and flue needs to be cleaned to assure a good airflow and prevent any issues with carbon monoxide, Kramer said.

Soot can accumulate in a chimney and it can actually catch fire. Keeping the chimney clean will help prevent fire issues and help maintain a good airflow.

Proper tools are needed to clean a chimney. If a homeowner doesn't have the tools, check the yellow pages for the closest chimney sweep.

Fireplace care includes having a good supply of dry wood. Burning green wood can cause build up product and plug up the chimney so dry wood is better.

"You get better production out of dry wood," Kramer said.

Certain types of wood burn better than others and cause less spark problems. Hedge wood is particularly bad about popping so another wood is better. Most hard woods burn the best.

Before starting a fireplace make sure that all combustibles have been removed from in front of the fire to prevent fire accidents.

"Establish a buffer zone in front of the fireplace," Kramer said.

The same is true for wood-burning stoves in sheds and garages. Over the summer, burnable material and flammable liquids may be placed near the stove so it's important that they are removed before the stove is lit.

Some homeowners opt to use a space heater to cut down on heating costs. It is vital to establish a buffer zone in front of the space heater just like a fireplace or stove, Kramer said.

It is best not to use extension cords with space heaters but if it is necessary make sure the extension cord is rated to handle the space heater.

Some heaters use kerosene as a fuel. These must have proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide issues.

This is especially true if the area being heated doesn't get much circulation.

To improve efficiency, homeowners can stop leaks with asealing caulk or plastic over windows.

Ceiling fans are another good way to circulate warm air but it works best at low speed.

Fall is also a good time to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Batteries should be replaced every year and if the unit is over 10 years old, most manufacturers recommend the unit be replaced.