The experts at Stewart Heating & Cooling want you to know.

The biggest danger you face when you have a gas furnace isn’t that it stops working when temperatures plummet. The real dangers happen without you even being aware a problem exists, until the situation turns critical. Thankfully, they can be avoided by proper installation and regular maintenance by a licensed contractor.

Fire Hazard

Gas furnaces require ventilation. Shelving, boxes, or other items stored too near a furnace hinders air flow and creates a fire hazard. This is particularly true of combustible materials, which can cause an explosion. Gasoline and solvents emit vapors which can be ignited by the heat or flame of a gas furnace.  Items such as paper or cloth can catch fire if left in the immediate area of the furnace.

Gas Line Leaks

Natural gas is a highly flammable fuel. Even the smallest amount of gas leaked into your house or furnace can cause an explosion and fire – and a tragedy for your family and neighborhood.

If you smell rotten eggs, shut off the gas, leave your home immediately, and when you are in a safe place, contact emergency personnel and the gas company of the suspected leak. The rotten egg smell is caused by a chemical added to natural gas – which has no odor on its own – to alert you that there is a problem. You might also hear a hissing sound, indicating gas is escaping a pipeline.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas given off as a byproduct of burning natural gas fuel. It causes flu-like symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness, and weakness. Overexposure to carbon monoxide can kill you, and many people have died in their sleep from CO poisoning. By the time you suspect a carbon monoxide leak, the danger to life and health is already high.

Carbon monoxide can escape a furnace due to blocked or minimal venting, inadequate air supply, cracks in the heat exchanger, or dirty filters. Operating the furnace with the front panel door open or improperly closed can also allow carbon monoxide to escape the furnace.

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