Don't Get Burned by Your Furnace

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High efficiency filters not only protect the furnace, but also capture more pollen, pet dander, smoke and other allergens than standard fiberglass filters.| Yet, according to a recent American Lung Association* survey, less than one in eight homeowners purchases a high efficiency filter for their furnace.

A well-maintained furnace can help save money on energy bills (especially during the fall and winter months). And, by using a high efficiency filter in your furnace, you improve air quality in the home as well. To ensure the furncace is operating at peak efficiency, follow these tips, courtesy of heating and ventilation experts at the American Lung Association's Health House Project:

-- Use a carbon monoxide detector in the home. It will alert you if lethal fumes begin escaping from your gas furnace and poisoning the air you breathe.

-- Make sure the gas furnace is properly lit with a steady blue pilot flame. If the pilot light goes out or if it's burning with a yellow or orange flame that tends to flicker, have the furnace inspected by a professional home heating contractor immediately.

-- If the gas furnace is properly lit, beware of a smell like a burning clothes iron. Such a smell may mean the furnace is burning too hot because of a dirty furnace filter.

-- Use a high efficiency furnace filter, such as a Filtrete micro particle and airborned allergen reduction filter from 3M, and replace it every two to three months. This filter meets the American Lung Association's Health House Project's indoor air quality guidelines.

-- Have your gas furnace inspected on an annual basis by a professional home heating contractor who follows industry standards for proper maintenance, and make sure he or she checks the following:

- thermostat calibration -- an improperly calibrated thermostat will result in too much or too little heat.
- heat exchangers -- inspecting for cracks and corrosion helps ensure the safe and efficient operation of the furnace.
- blower -- a clean, well-running blower promotes good filtration.
- burners -- a professional should judge the characteristics of the flame to determine if there is a potential problem.
- manifold gas pressure -- proper pressure is needed to control the amount of fuel that reaches the furnace burners.
- fan control -- ensures that the fan turns on and off at predetermined temperatures to prevent the house from becoming too hot or too cold.
- high limit control -- this is the furnace's main way of preventing overheating and possible damage to the unit.
- venting system -- all flue connections and elbows should be firmly fitted. There should be no cracks or openings where the flue connects to the chimney or side wall. Also, there should be no obstructions in the flue or chimney.
* The American Lung Association does not endorse products.

To learn more about the filtrete high efficiency air filter, please visit the 3M website at

Using high efficiency furnace filters is one of dozens of clean air tips included by the American Lung Association in "A Guide for Creating a Healthier Home." This booklet, created as part of an ongoing indoor air quality partnership between the American Lung Association's Health House Project and 3M, can be obtained free-of-charge by calling 1-800-388-3458.

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