The leaves are changing, the nights are getting darker and the weather is getting colder - all of which can mean only one thing: winter is right around the corner.
You may have already dug out your warm clothes or put winter tires on your car, but as the mercury falls even further; our attention understandably starts to shift towards getting ready for the colder months still ahead.
But how much thought have you given to getting your home ready for winter?
Ask an expert
Whether it's furnaces, boilers, water heaters or fireplaces, ensuring your natural gas appliances are in tip-top condition is essential as the seasons change.
"Think of natural gas appliances like you do your car," explains Michelle Petrusevich, Public Safety Manager at FortisBC. "If you don't take your car to a mechanic on a regular basis it will start having issues and eventually break down. The same is true for your natural gas appliances. Have them inspected by a licensed gas contractor to ensure they run safely and efficiently."
Just like visiting a good mechanic, a licensed gas contractor will check and service your appliances to ensure that everything is in working order and that there are no nasty surprises lurking around the corner.
It's all about giving you and your family peace of mind, not to mention preventing the inconvenience of your furnace breaking down in the middle of winter.
Avoiding any inconvenient emergencies is just one of the benefits of having your appliances regularly serviced.
"Safety is an important issue too," explains Petrusevich. "If they are not installed properly, are faulty or are not operating correctly, your natural gas, propane, oil and wood burning appliances can potentially produce carbon monoxide that could put your family in danger."
Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless. That makes it impossible to detect unless you have a carbon monoxide detector, and it can cause serious health problems.
The good news is that the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances is extremely low, and you can prevent carbon monoxide from becoming a problem by simply servicing your appliances regularly. Having a carbon monoxide detector in your home is also very important.
But how regularly are we talking about?
The recommended timeframe may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, but safety experts suggest getting your appliances checked at least once a year to ensure everything is operating efficiently.
"Having gas-fuelled appliances like furnaces, boilers, water heaters and fireplaces checked and serviced at least annually is important for safety, but can also have the benefit of reducing costs," explains Technical Safety BC's Acting Gas Technical Leader Brian Zinn.
"Proper maintenance saves homeowners money over time by ensuring equipment is operating efficiently. Meanwhile, preventative maintenance by licensed contractors provides peace of mind."
Find local, qualified contractors
With heating season upon us it's vital that you get your home appliances checked as soon as possible. The good news is that FortisBC is making it easier than ever to get a hold of the expertise you need.
The company has set up its Trade Ally Network, an online directory of more than 470 approved contractors from across the province. This easy-to-use directory enables you to search for someone who can service appliances in your local community, giving you access to a range of professional contractors who meet FortisBC's stringent safety requirements.
To help encourage people to get their appliances checked ahead of heating season, FortisBC is also offering a rebate program that could help put up to $135 back in homeowners' pockets. But you'll have to hurry if you're going to take advantage of the offer. In order to be eligible to receive a rebate you must have your natural gas furnace, boiler, fireplaces or tankless water heaters serviced by a licensed contractor before November 30th.
"Your appliances work hard to ensure your family's comfort and convenience, so the least you can do is give them a little attention in return," says Petrusevich. "Servicing may be part of the cost of ownership, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing your appliances are operating safely and efficiently is priceless."