SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Never mind spring cleaning, a new fall cleaning exercise can help you calmly transition into the colder weather. 

South Walton Fire District (SWFD) officials say they’ve already worked multiple calls this fall about a burning smell in houses.

“So far we have people who are coming into town maybe for the first time to their vacation homes. And unfortunately, the heating system hasn’t been running. That’s OK because the weather hasn’t permitted it. But now when you turn it on  for the first time, it may cause you to panic because of the smell of an electrical burning,” said Mackenzie McClintock, SWFD Public Information Officer.

McClintock said the burning smell comes from dust in the ventilation. 

“It’s the dust on the heating system that has accumulated in the warmer months. It needs a few minutes to burn off and the smell does eventually dissipate,” said McClintock.    

SWFD said anytime before November is a great time to get your heating units checked. There are multiple companies across the panhandle that will check units for free or at a low cost to their customers.

“It’s a tendency for anybody to wait till the last minute to get something done or wait till it gets cold to have this done. And so we encourage our senior citizens early to let us come in and do the to do the safety checks on the furnaces and the space heaters and the fire logs, make sure they’re fully operational and operating properly,” said Okaloosa Gas VP of Marketing Eddie Springle. 

Okaloosa Gas offers free appliance checks to customers 65 and older. it costs $65 for other customers to get a full check.

SWFD said you can also give your system a good clean before turning on the heater.

“You can change the filters if they need to be changed. Ultimately, we just want everybody, though, to be aware that that first time you turn it on when you do, that smell is going to happen,” said McClintock. 

The fire district said if the smell lasts longer than an hour- call 9-1-1. 

SWFD said it’s also a good idea to check smoke alarms. Any Walton County resident in need this winter can call 850-267-1298 and get a new alarm for free.