Every year, my dad completes an annual maintenance check on the heater before winter begins. He never used to do this when I was a kid. He didn’t think anything could be wrong and he didn’t think it was a risk to leave it unchecked. I remember my mom nagging him every year to check it. Her friend’s husband checked their heater every year and swore that it saved them so many headaches and unnecessary repairs. My dad ignored her complaints until the winter that he learned his lesson. I was fifteen at the time and was sound asleep. It was the coldest winter night that we’d seen that year. I woke up in the middle of the night from shivering in my sleep. My room was an icebox. I could literally see my breath in the air. I ran to my parents’ room to wake them up. My dad was shocked by what he woke up to. He ran downstairs to check the heating system and found that it was smoking. He turned it all off and we went to my grandparents’ house for the night. The next morning, an HVAC specialist came by to check things out. He said that a small part was missing in the heater, which caused the entire thing to break down. If we had caught this earlier during a maintenance check, we could’ve replaced the part easily. Now, the repair became much bigger and much more costly. My dad really learned his lesson. Now, the annual maintenance check is a big deal. He never misses a single one.