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Broken Heaters on the Rise

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MEDFORD, Ore. – Bitter cold temperatures are wreaking havoc on heating systems in the valley, leaving many families to go without heat entirely.

Many residents are relying on space heaters or fire places to keep their houses warm.

“The past couple nights I’ve tried to set my alarm a couple of times to get up and keep the fire going so that it doesn’t freeze,” said Medford resident Nick Dunn.

The problems are creating record call volumes for local companies. Jahnke Heating and Air Conditioning handled more than 120 service calls over the weekend. The usually get no more than a half a dozen a week.

“It was a pretty wild weekend for the guys I have on call,” said owner Glen Jahnke.

Jahnke says the majority of heating troubles affect the newer, high efficiency gas or liquid propane heaters. Those furnaces have a lower temperature flue to save energy, which allows for more moisture buildup.

When the moisture freezes it clogs the pipes, shutting the system down.

“In a lot of cases it’s just a blow drier and a matter of a few minutes to blow on it and get the ice off and get the water flowing through it,” said Jahnke.

The other common problem comes from heat pumps. Customers report the pumps working non-stop, sucking energy the whole time.

But Jahnke says they usually aren’t even broken, just outmatched.

“It’s perfectly normal for that to happen, but we can’t really tell the customer that without us actually going out and seeing that this is the problem,” said Jahnke.

Jahnke says the solution is usually simple, and cheap. Most can also be fixed in a matter of hours. But even if you think you know the problem, it never hurts to get it checked out by a professional.