What You Need to Know About Turning on Your Heater for Fall and Winter

Now that the temperature has fallen, it’s time to turn on your heater. Before you crank the heat up, though, you want to make sure that your electric heater, heat pump or furnace is clean and functioning properly.

Things to Do Before Turning on Your Heater

Change the Filter

Air filters need to be changed or cleaned anywhere between once a month and once every three months, but many homeowners neglect this essential chore. If you don’t change your filter, dust can build up,contributing to the burning smell that’s so common when turning on the heater for the first time in months. HEPA filters are best for catching small particulate matter and reducing the circulation of allergens in your home.

Remove Obstructions

Move any items stacked around your heater before turning it on. You don’t want anything flammable to catch fire.

Also sweep the exterior of your house for blocked intake vents or exhaust flues. Remove any debris like leaves, branches or animal nests so air can flow freely throughout your system.

Buy a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Every fuel-burning furnace produces carbon monoxide as a byproduct of the heating process. Carbon monoxide can reach dangerous levels whenever combustion is incomplete or the furnace isn’t properly vented. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by having regular maintenance performed on your furnace and purchasing a carbon monoxide detector.

Place your detector in a central area of the house far away from the furnace, as false readings are common when the detector is located too close. Make sure to check that your detector has power once a week and replace the batteries at least once a year.

Check the Thermostat

Many people think their heater is broken when really, afaulty thermostat is to blame. Double-check that your thermostat has freshbatteries and is registering the correct temperature in your home. Without thisinformation, it cannot send the right signal to turn on the heat.

If replacing the batteries and adjusting the settings does not work, you may have a wiring problem. Contact an HVAC professional to repair your thermostat or upgrade to a new one.


Heater Smells and What They Mean

Once your heater is on, you’ll want to pay attention to signs that something is amiss. A malfunction could lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide or an electrical fire if you aren’t careful.


The smell of burning dust is normal when you start up your furnace for the first time. The heat is burning off all the dust that has accumulated in your HVAC system over spring and summer. Pop open the windows to let the smell air out faster.

If the odor lasts longer than a few days, or if there is an electrical or metallic component to it, your system’s wires could be catching on fire due to overheating or a dysfunctional blower motor. In this case, turnoff the system and have a professional inspect the damage.

You should also be concerned if your heater smells like burning plastic. This could indicate a foreign object in the duct work, such as a children’s toy, or melting heater parts. Again, shut off the heater and call an HVAC professional.

Locker Room Must

Occasionally, a heater may smell like mildew or dirty socks. Not only is this unpleasant, but it also indicates mold,mildew or bacteria growth within the heating system. You will need to call in a professional to scrub your system clean. Otherwise, you could be breathing in harmful mold spores and bacteria.


Mercaptan is a chemical added to natural gas to make it smell like rotten eggs. If you notice this smell in your home, you could have a gas leak. Turnoff your gas supply at the meter, open the windows and doors, vacate your home and call 911 and the gas company if you suspect a leak. Do not light any flames or flip the lights on, as natural gas is highly combustible and will cause an explosion.

Heater Maintenance With Aramendia Plumbing Heating & Air in San Antonio, TX

Your home’s HVAC system is complex and doesn’t lend itself to DIY solutions, which is why it’s in your best interest to find a reliable service provider to keep your system working properly throughout the fall and winter seasons. At Aramendia Plumbing Heating & Air, our highly trained heating technicians can get your heater into tip-top shape and save you the hassle of figuring out what’s wrong. Call us at 210.654.1034 today for heater maintenance and repair.

5511 Brewster St.
San Antonio, TX 78233

About Us

Aramendia has been serving San Antonio
and the surrounding areas for over 29 years and we pride ourselves on the trust and reputation we have earned over that time. Our loyal customers know us as a reliable and trustworthy service company that will quickly send a highly-qualified technician to their home or office to take care of them.  In August of 2017, Aramendia became part of the Service Experts family. As a Service Experts company, Aramendia will continue to serve San Antonio and the surrounding area.

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