Forty-three years ago, on November 10th I was washing my 1966 Chevelle convertible while wearing a T-shirt on an unseasonably warm afternoon. The car had to be clean for our wedding. It was decorated before the night was over when our groomsman covered it with shaving cream, soap, and other things!

That comfortable weather seemed like it would continue forever, but then we had a brutally cold winter. On December 31st it was -20 degrees. On January 12th, 1974, it was -33 degrees. That Chevelle struggled to start many days because it sat outside all winter in the cold, but it was our only car and we needed to get to work.

This year November 10th was warm again at 71 degrees. It gave us a false sense of security for the moment, but then reality tells us to consider cold past winters. We can always count on at least some bitterly cold Nebraska winter days. Will you be ready?

Hopefully, your furnace is serviced already or is scheduled for service. A properly serviced furnace will operate more efficiently, and safely, and the odds are better it will not fail. It’s important to keep that main heat source operating during our cold winters.

Servicing the furnace and also the water heater reduces your risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Water heaters seem to be even more dangerous than furnaces because fumes often “spill out” from their flue pipes. The furnace is usually located by the water heater and it then circulates those fumes through the home.

It’s very important to have carbon monoxide levels checked on a routine basis. Technicians need to use test equipment that provides an actual reading of carbon monoxide levels. If techs do not understand how important this is, it’s time to change techs.

It’s also wise to have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home to provide an early warning sign of elevated levels. Having said that, one local source advised us to rely solely on a carbon monoxide detector. Don’t do it. Carbon monoxide detectors fail and are sometimes installed inaccurately or installed in a location too far from the source of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five years.

Please realize this is an especially risky year for carbon monoxide exposure for those that had their homes shingled after the hail storm damage. The City Codes Department announced quite a few flue pipes were installed incorrectly during the roofing repair process, resulting in dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the homes. You may help save lives if you share this concern. Our community will be lucky if no one dies.

In Nebraska, it’s good to have a secondary heat source too. A good example is a gas fireplace with a standing pilot light that does not require electricity. Enclosed gas fireplaces also work well. Neither will typically heat an entire home comfortably, but at least they provide some heat. Please be aware ventless fireplaces do not meet City Code requirements in Lancaster County.

As seasons change it’s necessary to adjust the airflow balance to prevent uncomfortable room temperatures. Heat naturally goes to upper levels, so air flows need to be increased to lower levels and reduced to upper levels. Typically, that can be accomplished by adjusting registers or dampers in the ductwork if those were installed.

Historically Nebraska winters are so dry they cause us to suffer physically. Low humidity levels below the recommended 40% to 60% levels increase respiratory issues that affect the body in many ways. We become more susceptible to colds and flu. Dry air is dangerous for allergy and asthma sufferers since it aggravates their symptoms. Long-term exposure causes lung damage and skin gets that wrinkled leather effect.

Thanksgiving had a special meaning this year in so many ways. Although my father passed away, it still was a special time to give thanks for all the positive things like people that provided support and another new grandchild. It’s also a time to think about those that are less fortunate and reach out to help where possible.

With that thought in mind, John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical will be joining Froggy 98 to fulfill the needs of a family in the Lincoln area. “The Holiday Break-In” will be explained on Froggy 98 next week.

There will be various opportunities like this to help those in need in our community as we reach out to others. It’s also a time to get prepared for another Nebraska winter.

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