our opinions: SERVICE PROVIDERS In The Comfort Zone By Brett Hobson, CEO Comfort Experts OCTOBER 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY Home Heating Check-Up Could Save Your Life — Here’s How I don’t know about you, but at this time of year the AC/ Heating company flyers and mailers start hitting my mailbox just about the time the leaves start falling from the trees. I know many of you think that a heating system check-up is just a way for air conditioning companies like mine to make money before the end of the year, but it’s important if you have a gas heating system to get it serviced every year. Not unlike your own internal system that you should have your doctor look over every year, an annual heater checkup is important to look for cracks or damage in the heat exchange or other parts. Malfunctions can introduce carbon monoxide into the air that your family breathes as soon as the heater is turned on in the fall. And there’s a reason it’s called the silent killer. Carbon monoxide (CO) can kill your entire family without any warning if there are cracks or damage to your gas heating system. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized according to the Center for Disease Control. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and undetectable to human senses. You might not even know you are being exposed because low to moderate exposure can have symptoms much like the flu, but without the fever. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. It strikes the youngest and oldest of us, babies and older people most severely. Although there are several different ways that you can experience carbon monoxide inside your home including malfunctioning gas stoves, ranges or water heaters, portable generators, space heaters, or gas grills being used too close or inside a home, car engine exhaust from an attached garage, most of the CO deaths in the home are linked to malfunctioning or damaged gas heating s ystems. The headlines talk about the deaths from CO in places 68 where you expect; New York, New Jersey and Michigan, places that are much colder than Parker County, Texas. However, it can happen to anyone, anywhere. Carbon monoxide poisoning killed Walt Disney’s mother who lived in Toluca Lake, CA from a gas furnace that Walt had installed for her. And it’s happened just east of us in Fort Worth. A woman woke up from a CO-induced coma to find she had missed the funerals of members of her family who succumbed to the poisonous gas. Everyone who has a gas heating system should have a yearly heating system tune up. And every home with a gas heating system should have battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector outside bedroom areas. Like your smoke detectors, check or replace batteries when you change the time on your clocks. Also, consider a detector with a digital readout so you can see what the level is in your home. Your heating system tune up should be completed by a licensed ac/heating technician from a reputable company. Don’t be fooled by the low-ball offers that you get in the mail. This is your family’s life and your own piece of mind that you are paying for. And remember just because it’s working doesn’t mean it’s not broken. It’s difficult to find the problem because it is most likely under the system or behind a panel that is screwed shut. A conscientious technician should take more than an hour and up to two hours to inspect your system. If they are finished in less time than that, they haven’t done a thorough job inspecting your system. It takes time because the parts they need to view aren’t easy to get to and unfortunately cracks in the heat exchanges aren’t easy to see. The number of CO deaths in the US has been declining over the past few years, but just one is too many in my opinion. So take a closer look at those offers and take action on one of them, or call the company that you’ve trusted in the past to take care of the service. It could make all the difference in your family’s future health.