With cold weather taking a toll on heating systems, firefighters warn about dangerous space heaters

Posted December 28, 2017 4:59 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 9:56 a.m. EDT

— The first major cold spell of winter is not only bone-chilling for people, it’s damaging some home heating systems, causing heating and air conditioning companies to scramble to make repairs.

Jordan Phillips with Carolina Comfort and Air was dispatched Thursday to several homes experiencing heating issues Thursday.

He said homes with one heating and air conditioning unit can create a nightmare for residents if they stop working. Without a backup heating source, emergency calls for service after hours or during the holidays can be pricey, he said.

Phillips said calls for service typically slow down during the winter, but not before the first hard freeze takes heating units through brutal wake-up calls.

“The first cold, cold weather we have, that’s when we get the volume of calls and typically you see defrost issues, you see refrigerant issues and that’s typically what we see in the winter time,” he said.

Phillips said the cold snap -- which kept temperatures in the low 30s Thursday throughout the Triangle - couldn’t have come at a worse time, as many companies work with skeleton crews during the Christmas holiday.

Current Temperatures, DMA

Those who can’t get their heat fixed quickly may resort to using space heaters, but Donnie Griffin with the Vander Fire Department in Cumberland County said they could be disastrous if not used correctly.

“A lot of people that we run into, the calls and stuff, they’re setting their space heaters too close to objects like bed linens, couches, chairs, drapes, stuff like that,” Griffin said.

Griffin said that homeowners who must use space heaters to keep warm Thursday night should use good judgment.

“I know some people need it to stay warm at night, but if any way possible, unplug them before you go to bed at night. I know you might have to put an extra blanket on or something to stay warm, but those (space heaters) can be dangerous.”

Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday signed an emergency declaration to allow heating fuel to be more easily distributed by loosening restrictions on drivers transporting propane.