Everybody knows that scene from A Christmas Story—a belch of black smoke drifts up from a floor register, and The Old Man cracks his knuckles, tromping down the basement stairs to do battle with his furnace once again. The situation is classic, but it’s a lot funnier when it’s not happening to you. If you want to spend the holidays upstairs with your family, not down in the basement inventing curses that would make Santa shudder, just follow these tips to keep your furnace running at its best. 1. Remember your annual maintenance. If you can’t remember the last time a professional looked at your furnace, the time is now. Having your furnace professionally cleaned and maintained once a year is by far the easiest way to avoid failure that could leave you feeling cold and grinchy. Remember, maintenance isn’t just for fixing big problems, it’s for catching the small problems before they get worse. 2. Replace your air filters. Next on the list of easy ways to avoid a furnace breakdown is changing out your air filters regularly. Depending on where you live, you may have to replace your filters more or less often, but a general rule of thumb is to replace them every three months. This helps your home’s indoor air quality (a must for family with allergies) and keeps your furnace running efficiently, which can significantly increase its lifespan. 3. Keep the area clear. Your furnace runs its best when it’s not crowded by boxes, tools or whatever else you’re currently storing in your furnace room. Keep at least a three-foot area clear around your furnace at all times, and it may go without saying, but don’t store flammable items like paper, wood scraps or old kerosene-soaked rags nearby. A tidy furnace area also makes life easier for your friendly furnace technician. 4. Check your thermostat batteries. A lot of furnace “failures” are actually due to something simple, like dead batteries in your thermostat. If your thermostat isn’t working, your furnace won’t either, because the thermostat tells your furnace when to kick on or turn off. To avoid this, set a regular schedule for replacing batteries in your thermostat—we generally recommend swapping them out twice a year. Call National Property Inspections Today for All Your Home Maintenance Questions NPI’s professionally trained inspectors have the expertise to access hundreds of your home’s components and major systems. Find an inspector near you today to keep your home warm and safe this winter.