It's a good time to be in the heating and cooling business.
"This is our busiest time of the year. We usually start in August, and we are booked solid to the middle of November," said Diane Irwin, vice president/treasurer and one of the owners of Conner Heating and Air Conditioning, Tipton.
Jim Bovard, owner of Bovard Heating and Cooling, said in October people start to think about their furnaces or are turning them on only to find out they are not working properly.
Patsy Caporuscio, owner of Caporuscio Plumbing and Heating, Altoona, said he started getting calls for furnace maintenance at the end of September.
"We are getting calls nonstop, and it can go on all winter. Furnaces can develop problems when they start using them," Caporuscio said.
Local contractors service both heating oil and natural gas furnaces, the majority of Blair County homes use natural gas for their heat.
Service on a heating oil furnace is a little different and usually not done when it is warm outside.
"To do an oil furnace, we need to do a calibration and the furnace has to be running to do it to make sure it is running properly," Irwin said. "Oil furnaces should be done every year because there can be a build up of black soot. The nozzle should be changed every year."
"Oil is more complicated. They have a nozzle and filter that need cleaned and changed. Ninety-five percent of our customers in Altoona have natural gas," said Cathy Smithmyer, manager of Smithmyer Plumbing and Heating, Altoona. Contractors agree it is important to have your furnace checked by a qualified professional.
"When we do routine maintenance, we check the motors, controls and heat exchanger. The furnace can operate with a cracked heat exchanger, but carbon monoxide can leak out into the home. We recommend people also have carbon monoxide detectors in their home," Bovard said.
"We check the way it ignites. We clean the blowers, check the flu passages and all safety and power switches," Caporuscio said.
Keeping the filter clean is also important.
"We tell people to keep their filter clean. If they don't, they are cheating themselves. That messes with the efficiency and can hurt the furnace."
"A lot of people with hot air furnaces don't change their filters regularly. This gives them a higher gas bill and very little heat. I had one that was so dirty I couldn't even see you if you were on the other side of it," said Gene Pletcher, owner of Gene Pletcher Heating and Cooling, Duncansville.
It is important to have your furnace checked annually.
"Manufacturers recommend it should be done annually. Some have warranties that require you to have documentation that it is serviced annually," Smithmyer said.