Gas appliances are not inherently dangerous. In fact, theyâ€™re exceedingly safe, as long as theyâ€™re well-maintained and treated with care and respect.
If you have a gas-fueled furnace, room heater, stove, or water heater in your home, here are eight safety tips you would be wise to follow:
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in the immediate vicinity of each appliance.
If you have gas-burning appliances in your home, carbon monoxide poisoning is the biggest risk you face. Every year, thousands of people are sickened by exposure to carbon monoxide, and a few people pay the ultimate price.
Carbon monoxide detectors are highly sensitive, and theyâ€™ve saved many lives. They do need to be installed fairly near gas appliances to work correctly, and you should change the batteries twice a year even if the low-battery warning beeper doesnâ€™t sound.
- Learn to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide detectors are great, but carbon monoxide is so dangerous that you shouldnâ€™t count on them exclusively. Even if they do go off during a leak and you manage to flee, someone may be exposed to hazardous levels of carbon monoxide before you can get out of the house.
The telltale indicators of carbon monoxide exposure include these:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Steadily increasing drowsiness
- Tension headaches
- Muscle and joint stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Disorientation, confusion
- Nausea, vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
If you or anyone else in your home experiences any of these symptoms, leave the house, open all windows and doors on the way out, turn the gas off at its source, and call the gas company (after you exit the house) to alert them to the danger. If anyoneâ€™s illness persists, or if anyone loses consciousness, call 911 and ask them to dispatch an ambulance immediately.
- Keep the floor and wall space around your gas appliances free and clear.
Donâ€™t install gas appliances near cabinets or shelvesÂ or in a spot with a low ceiling. Donâ€™t push the appliance right up against the wall, and keep the floor space around it clear of all obstacles for a distance of 4-6 feet.
- Donâ€™t store combustibles anywhere close to a gas-burning appliance.
If it burns, you should keep it far, far away from your gas furnace, heater, or stove. In fact the best idea is to store your chemical products, oil or kerosene cans, paint, newspapers, magazines, and any other flammable items in an entirely separate location.
- Make your gas appliances off-limits to children and pets.
No matter how responsible and careful your kids (or cats and dogs) might be, why take any chances?
- Check your gas appliance vents often to make sure they remain clean and open.
Vent maintenance is fairly simple and straightforward. Fortunately, modern gas appliances are often manufactured to shut down if venting is inadequate, but if you inspect the vents yourself and clean them out as needed, youâ€™ll have nothing to worry about.
- Look for soot accumulation, a yellow pilot light flame, or any other sign of damage or diminished performance.
Older gas appliances need extra-special attention. It might be a good idea to get rid of your furnace, heater, or stove before it ages too much, but at the very least, you have to watch it carefully for any signs of breakdown or malfunction.
- Arrange for regular maintenance visits from an HVAC contractor (and other professionals if needed).
If you have a gas furnace, this is where Johns Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning can really help you out. Call us to make an appointment before heating season begins, and weâ€™ll send a trained technician to your home to inspect your furnace for any sign of damage. Quick tune-ups are free, and if more extensive repairs are needed, youâ€™ll be happy to know weâ€™re one of the most affordable contractors in the area, and our technicians are highly experienced in all types of repair procedures. We can also give you the chance to enroll in our maintenance program, which will ensure regular inspections as well as saving you money on parts and labor.
Keeping your gas appliances in tip-top working order at all times is one of the best ways to ensure their continued safe operation, and no matter what type of gas appliance you own, it’s always good to have the assistance of a professional.