This has been quite the year, and I'm growing tired of saying that. But, once again we got an unexpected event with one of the coldest and snowiest Octobers that any of us can really remember. In fact at 1am this morning the National Weather Service in Duluth declared this month the snowiest October on record. While the snow can be annoying to some, the biggest problem is the fact that the cold weather has caught many homeowners and landlords off guard.

There's a lot of people that hold out until freezing temperatures to run their furnace, boiler, or whatever heating system they have. Typically in the HVAC business there are busier times of the year. Usually that's when it gets cold in the late fall, and when it gets hot in the summer. I've learned most of this through conversations with my friend Bruce who owns Aireserv. This year is particularly busy. Phones are ringing off the hook at heating and plumbing businesses with people who don't have heat. The sad part is that so many people need service, and there are only so many technicians available anywhere.

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My neighbors down the street had a problem with their furnace two weeks ago and they just finally were able to have a technician come look at it and get it running. We just heard in the news that 10 families are now without a home after a landlord couldn't afford to fix the heating system in their downtown apartment buildings.

So what are you to do if you have to wait for the next available repairman to fix your heat? I asked Bruce about that and he had some tips to help you out. First off, realize that the temperatures aren't too cold to worry about freezing pipes bursting. That happens in much colder weather. With temperatures still around the 30 degree mark we should be ok. Secondly he suggests that you buy a ceramic circle heater. You can find them at just about any department store. They use electricity and they are a pretty safe way to heat your home temporarily. You can get by with this whether you just keep one room warm or use a couple throughout the house.

A lot of other fuel sourced heaters can give off carbon monoxide which can poison and kill people. Unfortunately we are heading into the season where we usually see some fatalities from that as well. That's another tip: every home should have a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of sleeping areas. It can save your life. Don't use propane or gas heaters inside unless they are properly installed by a professional and certified for indoor use.