SKOKIE, Ill. — The cold air can seriously impact a person’s health and home. It’s why local experts say it’s paramount to keep your furnace working and your body safe from frostbite.

As many brave the brutal temperatures, HVAC companies are flooded with calls. At Topline HVAC in Skokie, owner Sam Odisho says his technicians are working around the clock.

‘All of our guys have been on call 24/7,” Odisho said. “When temperatures get this low, the furnaces overwork nonstop and that’s when they start breaking down.”

As furnaces use more power, Odisho says regularly replacing furnace filters is a common fix to keep homes heated. However, how often homeowners change their filter depends on the type of filter they buy, says Odisho.  

“If you get the better filter, you have to change it more often. But then if you get the less expensive filter, it will clog a plastic bag but all the dust will be flowing in the air, so you don’t have to change it as often,” Odisho said.

Topline general manager Marcus Shiver adds: “From time to time if you haven’t had it serviced for quite some time, what will happen is it doesn’t shut down and it overheats and then you’ll have a major problem on your hand, possibly a carbon monoxide leak or something could happen with a fire as well.”

As many brave the brutal temperatures, HVAC companies are flooded with calls.

City documents show an ordinance requiring residents to have working carbon monoxide detectors to help protect them from potential furnace leaks. If homeowners use a space heater, it’s recommended they get one that’s UL certified. Homeowners are also advised to keep furnaces at least three feet from anything that may ignite.

When it comes to furnace repairs, Topline representatives want to remind locals to remain patient, as labor and equipment shortages have made it more challenging to service customers quickly. 

Dr. Osasumwen Osayimwen, with NorthShore University Health System, says frostbite can form within 10-15 minutes of exposure to subzero temperatures.

“Limit your time outside as much as possible,” he said. “You can have frostbite. You can have hypothermia and in bad cases, frostbite can proceed to gangrene.”