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American Home Shield, a leading provider of home protection plans, is urging homeowners to protect their homes from potential heating system hazards this winter by learning important warning signs.

Faulty and improperly used heating equipment accounted for nearly 500 deaths, more than 57,000 fires and $1.1 billion in direct property damage in 2010, according to the latest figures available from the National Fire Protection Association.

To help prevent heating system hazards, be aware of the following warning signs that may point to potential problems:

Always be aware of gas odors. If you smell gas around your heating unit, leave the area and call your gas company immediately.
Be sure your pilot light is burning a steady blue flame. If it is not, call your heating professional or a gas company.
Take a close look at your exhaust fan for any rust, damage or deterioration. If you notice any, call a qualified professional and describe what you see to determine whether a repair is needed.

Along with these warning signs, the company also reminds homeowners to use extra care when operating space heaters. For instance, they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, never into an extension cord, and turned off at night. When in use, always be sure space heaters are a safe distance from curtains and other flammable items.

American Home Shield recommends having a licensed professional conduct annual preventative maintenance on your home’s heating system as an effective way to help avoid potentially hazardous situations like these.

Homeowners can watch a video about home heating warning signs and a variety of other home maintenance tips on the American Home Shield YouTube channel. The short, informational videos are hosted by licensed contractor and HGTV personality David Leon.

For more information visit http://ahswarranty.com or its parent company ServiceMaster at http://servicemaster.com.

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