MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Professionals are urging homeowners to get A/C units checked before cranking up the heat as colder temperatures arrive.

The Memphis Fire Department reported two house fires over the weekend caused by faulty or malfunctioning heating systems.

Now is the time to make sure you and your family stay warm and safe.                 

“It lasted for over an hour. Plenty of smoke, Plenty fire coming directly out of the roof of the house.” a Whitehaven resident said after her home caught fire on Saturday.

According to investigators, the fire started by a heating unit that malfunctioned in a utility closet.

It was the second house fire over the weekend in which a heating unit or system was termed to have been the cause of the fire.

With overnight temperatures turning cooler, it’s important to make sure your heating system is up for the challenge.

Terry Baker with Conway Services says this is the time of year he and fellow technicians are working round the clock and answering calls from customers who want their heating systems tuned up for the winter.

“It’s very critical that you keep these things maintained and tuned up every year for your highest efficiency and your safety also,” Baker said. “You do have an open flame going into your unit. If that’s not checked out properly, it could be a potential hazard for the home and the customer.”

Baker stresses there are a variety of parts that can wear out after years of use and without routine maintenance there’s the potential for disaster.

Memphis Fire Lieutenant, Wayne Cooke, provided WREG with the following tips for safely staying warm:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like your furnace, fireplace or portable space heater.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home, dry clothing or for any purpose other than the manufacturer’s recommendations .
  • Never overload electrical outlets. Plug only 1 heat producing appliance (such as a space heater or portable radiator) into one wall receptacle at a time.
  • Remember to always turn portable heaters off when leaving any room or before going to bed.
  • Always use the correct fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning heating appliances.
  • Have a qualified technician install heating equipment, water heaters and any gas appliance.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a licensed professional. 
  • Keep portable generators out of the carport, garage, patio and away from windows; operate them as far away from the house as possible. 
  • Make sure that your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Fire ashes should always be completely extinguished before putting them into any kind of covered, metal container.
  • Keep fireplace ashes containers a safe distance away from your home and never put ashes into a plastic container.
  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends every smoke alarm be replaced after 10 years.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries twice a year. 
  • Make sure you have carbon monoxide (CO) alarms installed in your home to avoid the risk of CO poisoning and test them monthly. 
  • Never delay calling 911 in the event of an emergency.