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237137002 C O N T E N T S Keep your fall yard cleanup from becoming too taxing Prepare the landscape around your home for winter Add warmth to your home décor for fall As winter gets closer, organize your garage Family-friendly carpet and tile options for your home Tips to help lower energy costs Rid yourself of autumn allergens Five good reasons to replace your A/C unit in the fall A publication of the Waukesha Freeman and Oconomowoc Enterprise • October 2014 Fall Home & Garden Special Edition By Tom Jozwik HOMES PLUS CORRESPONDENT WAUKESHA — At Dave Droegkamp Heating of Hartland, General Manager Duane LeBlanc recently said, "one thing we always tell the customers is test your equipment early — before the first sustained cold snap." In other words, with regard to your furnace, "fire it, make sure that things work, on one of the first cool evenings" of autumn, rather than encountering problems after nighttime temperatures have plunged into the 30s to stay. Upon hearing "abnormal noises" or taking note of other heating sys- tem abnormalities, LeBlanc said, a homeowner should turn to a profes- sional. Typically, he said, a conventional gas furnace might last 15 to 18 years. Given the "advances in mod- ern heating equipment," he said, "if your furnace is beyond that age," it may be time to consider replace- ment. Furnace filters should be checked at regular intervals, LeBlanc said, and replaced as necessary. Vents, too, should be monitored, "into and throughout the heating season," to ascertain "they're not sucking up leaf debris or blocked." It's an excellent idea, LeBlanc said, to engage a qualified contrac- tor to conduct an annual furnace maintenance check. The contrac- tor, he explained, "will ensure it's operating efficiently." The yearly checkup is a means of staving off potential problems (the big one being carbon monoxide), LeBlanc said. Wayne Abendschein, comfort specialist at Waukesha's 1st Choice Heating & Cooling, had a ready answer when asked about the best preparation for the cold weather to come. "Because of the severe winter last year," Abendschein suggested a professional heating unit "tune-up" that would involve a check of the entire system — burners, electrical connections, etc. According to We Energies, Abendschein said fur- naces that go without tuneups will lose 3 percent of their efficiency in a year. Not surprisingly, then, the comfort specialist (like LeBlanc) came down on the side of an annu- al inspection. And fall "is a great time of the year to do it," Abendschein said, although he indicated testing fre- quently is more important than testing in any specific season. Time to turn the heat up on your home Experts say fall is a great time to check the furnace See Heat/Page 4 Submitted photo A service technician works on a furnace. Local experts encourage homeowners to have a furnace checkup before temperatures plunge in the winter.