My Heating System Smells Like Gas: Should I Be Worried?

Posted On: October 24, 2017

Natural gas is an affordable, abundant fuel source for heating American homes. According to statistics compiled by the American Gas Association, almost 62 million American homes (or 56 percent of all U.S. homes) use natural gas-powered furnaces as their primary heating source. Although natural gas is a popular heating option, there’s a small chance you could experience a fire or poisonous gas leak if your furnace is not properly maintained. Is it ever normal to smell gas near your furnace? The quick answer is yes, but only in specific situations. Read on to find out what’s normal when using natural gas and when you should call a licensed contractor for service.

Start of the Heating Season Gas Odors

When your furnace sits unused during the spring and summer, it’s normal for dust, dirt, and other impurities to settle into the heating unit. When you turn on the furnace for the first time, you might notice a slight gas smell while the furnace burns off the accumulated debris. This is normal, but you can cut down on the duration of this unpleasant smell by opening some windows to allow for cross ventilation to dissipate the smell quickly.

Regular Gas Emissions

It’s normal for gas furnaces to emit small amounts of gas when cycling on. If you occasionally detect a faint gas odor near the furnace during this cycle, you don’t have anything to worry about. However, if you frequently smell gas throughout your home, your furnace could have a dangerous leak. The best course of action is to turn the furnace off and call a certified HVAC contractor to diagnose and correct the problem immediately.

Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Every time fuel is burned (like natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, wood, etc.) carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is vented out of your home when you operate a gas furnace. However, if the furnace is old, improperly maintained, or the venting system is blocked, this deadly, poisonous gas can buildup in your home. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and eventually death. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, you can protect yourself by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home that will alert you to the presence of this deadly poison.

If your carbon monoxide detector warns you of a leak, turn off the furnace and evacuate your home immediately!

Call Top Notch for Regular Furnace Maintenance

A gas furnace is a safe, affordable way to heat your Kansas City area home. When you call the professionals of Top Notch Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, our trained technicians will properly maintain your furnace and can install carbon monoxide detectors to give you peace of mind that your home will be safe all winter long. Our technicians will thoroughly inspect every component of your furnace and venting system to ensure your unit is working safely and efficiently.  If you have questions about the reliability of your gas furnace, contact Top Notch for an inspection today.

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