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Before you call the furnace repair person, check outside

Utility companies say they're getting lots of calls about furnaces not working -- and many are related to the deep snow.

Scott Bartholomew is with Consumers Energy.

He says high efficiency furnaces have fresh air PVC intake pipes on the outside of the home.

"What happens is the snow gets packed up in it, and it will block off the intake," says Bartholomew, "or it will suck up some snow in there -- which will trip off the pressure switches and doesn't allow the furnace to come on."

People who live in mobile homes with flat roofs are also experiencing problems, when the snow covers up the furnace chimney on the top of the roof.

"And if you have a pilot light on the furnace, it snuffs out the pilot, or if it's electronic ignition, the pressure switches won't allow the furnace to come on."

Bartholomew says people should buy a snow rake to clear the snow off the roof, rather than climbing a ladder to clear it off.

Utilities are also asking people to  clear a path to their meter, and  to remove snow and ice from the meters so meter readers can do their job. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.