Written by Brad Crawford
A properly maintained natural gas furnace is a safe, efficient way to keep your home warm throughout North Texas’ chilly winters. On rare occasions, though, even a high-quality furnace can develop problems that lead to a potentially life-threatening gas leak.
Natural gas is highly combustible, so even a minor leak puts you at risk for a fire or explosion. Large amounts of gas can also cause asphyxiation. Just knowing how to detect leaks quickly helps protect you from these unthinkable scenarios.
- Smell – Because pure natural gas has no odor, suppliers add a non-toxic chemical called mercaptan to give the gas a distinct and easily detectable odor. This chemical contains sulfur, so it smells similar to rotten eggs, sewer odor, onions or boiling cabbage. If you smell this, check that you haven’t left a gas valve open on your stove. If you haven’t, you may have a leak.
- Listen – A hissing, blowing or high-pitched whistling sound near any part of your gas system, including an appliance, gas pipes or the gas meter, is a clear sign of a life-threatening gas leak.
- Look – Gas leaking from indoor pipes or fixtures may blow around dust or other light material. Outdoors, it may cause nearby plants to turn brown and die.
If you think you’ve detected a leak, put out any open flames or burning material. Don’t turn on or off any electronic items or use the phone, which could cause a spark. If you know where your appliance or meter shut-off valves are, consider turning them off with a shut-off tool, a wrench or by hand. Leave the building and contact your gas company immediately.
To keep your gas furnace running safely, schedule professional annual furnace maintenance at the beginning of every heating season. An expert tune-up not only helps prevent gas and carbon monoxide leaks, it also improves your system’s energy efficiency, saving you money.
To get more guidance on avoiding a life-threatening gas leak and otherwise staying safe and comfortable with gas furnaces and appliances, contact us at Crawford Services, Inc. We provide top-quality service around the Dallas-Forth Worth area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in North Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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