The winter weather arrived extremely early this year. After a long and wonderful summer, I expected an extended and mild fall. Instead, the temperature suddenly dropped in the middle of September. In a single day, I went from wearing shorts and sandals to bundling up in a coat and swear. I switched from relying on the air conditioner to starting up the furnace. With the threat of snow, I was in a hurry to put away the barbecue grill and patio furniture, winterize the pool, and locate the snow shovels, ice scrapers and rock salt. Although the furnace made some strange noises and smelled odd when it cycled on, I neglected to schedule professional service. I simply hoped that after running awhile, the heating system would work itself out. Instead, the operation of the furnace simply worsened over time. The operational sound level elevated steadily, and the odor became more intense. Although the heating system seemed to run continually, and my monthly bills were excessive, the house felt chilly. There were cold spots in the corners of the various rooms, and I kept raising the thermostat setting. The furnace finally quit entirely at the end of December, and I was forced to call a licensed HVAC contractor. It cost me way more to pay for furnace repair than proactive maintenance. Plus, I was forced to pay extra for overtime service to get a technician to come to the house in the middle of the night. The technician confirmed that the issue was entirely caused by a lack of maintenance and dust buildup.