Pa. (WTAJ) — Don’t turn on your thermostat just yet! There are a few things that need to be done before your heat is up and running.

First, have a certified/professional maintenance team inspect your heating unit to ensure it’s safe to use.

How often your heat source needs to be checked depends on its type. For example, furnaces need to be inspected each year and chimneys also need to be inspected and cleaned each year by a professional.

“Make sure your flue is cleaned out at least once a year, and all that residue is out so it doesn’t cause a fire. If you’re using any kind of accessories for heating such as space heaters, you want to make sure they’re certified through a third party,” Justin Smithmyer, the Fire Inspector at the Altoona Fire Department said.

The colder season is when the fire department also sees an increase in fires caused by candles, space heaters, and clogged flues.

“Listen for any noise that the system is making. Any banging or pop noises. They should be replacing their air filter and making sure that there are no combustible materials near the furnace,” Jared Barber, the Sales and Marketing Manager at Link Service Heating and Cooling said.

UGI Utilities Inc., encourages eligible natural gas and electric customers to apply for federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds to help cover the cost of heating their home this winter.

Applications will be accepted by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services beginning Nov. 1, 2023, through April 5, 2024.

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LIHEAP assistance can also be used to weatherize homes to make them more energy efficient.

For more tips on heating fire safety visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.