ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — It will be a cold week in the stateline, which means that furnaces are working overtime to keep their owners warm.

Local HVAC companies have been feeling the heat of the cold, and they had some tips on keeping one’s unit up and running. They said that a little wear and tear on a furnace is completely normal, but some proactive maintenance is required to prevent a total breakdown.

“This is that time of year,” said Joshua Dent, Comfort Advisor at Temperature Doctors Heating and Cooling. “It’s the first little bit of winter, so we’ve been getting quite a few calls with furnaces. They’ve had a little strain, so we’re starting to get those.”

Dropping temperatures lead to a rise in business for local heating companies. Winter weather can take a toll on furnaces, according to experts.

“This is a time to take a trip down to the basement and look at the furnace, maybe take the door off if you can, and observe,” Dent said. “See if you hear any odd noises or sounds. If you hear a rattle, or grinding, or it’s just not sounding quite right, it’s probably a good opportunity to call somebody and have that checked.”

Keith Anderson, Senior Technician with Pearson Plumbing, Heating and Pest Control, said that routine inspections are key to keeping HVAC systems running smoothly. He suggested learning a little bit about one’s unit, so residents can perform easy maintenance work in their own time.

“Newer furnaces, they produce condensation, so there’s a lot of hoses and stuff that can get plugged up,” Anderson said. “So keep a good eye on the hoses, drains, the outside vent where it comes through the wall.”

Dent said that one of the most important steps homeowners can take is to change their air filter monthly.

“There are certain ones that can go a bit longer, but it’s a good idea to change it more frequently,” Dent said. “You don’t want to have any impact on air flow, so check that, make sure that it’s the right size and that it’s free and clear, and if it’s unusually dirty, that’s a sign too for your system to be inspected.”

The life span of a well-maintained furnace in the Midwest is between 12 and 14 years, according to Dent. If a unit is approaching that age, Dent said that it might be best to think about purchasing a new unit.