Home warranty provider American Home Shield is reminding homeowners to learn the warning signs of furnace trouble this winter.

Citing National Fire Protection Association data, misused and improperly installed HVAC equipment was responsible for 500 deaths, 57,000 fires and $1.1 billion in property damage in 2010, American Home Shield said.

In addition to having a licensed contractor inspect your system each year and perform maintenance as required, it gave these tips:

Be aware of any gas odors.

Ensure the pilot light flame is steady and blue in color.

Look at the exhaust fan for damage or rust.