Gas Appliance Safety
Natural gas appliances are not only economical and efficient, they are safe, too. Like all appliances, they must be used properly. Natural gas heaters, dryers, water heaters and ranges will give many years of safe, economical service if a few simple guidelines are followed.
- Natural gas appliances should be installed and maintained by qualified service personnel according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Natural gas appliances should only be used for their intended purpose. (Do not use gas appliances such as an oven, range or clothes dryer to heat the home.)
- Keep aerosols, paper, boxes and other combustible items away from open flames, like that on natural gas appliances.
- Have the furnace checked by a professional every year before cold weather begins.
Inspections should include:
- Check vent pipes for cracks, leaks and sufficient venting.
- Inspect internal components for excessive wear or damage and replace or repair as necessary.
- Make proper internal adjustments for maximum efficiency.
- Clean internal and external areas including the burner chamber, heat exchanger, vents, registers and thermostat.
- Make sure the water heater is set to a safe temperature - 120° F - or no higher than necessary. Higher temperatures may cause scalding, especially on children.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in the living and sleeping areas of the home.
Gas connectors are corrugated metal tubes used to connect gas appliances in the home to natural gas supply pipes. Some older, uncoated brass connectors may have a serious flaw in the end pieces, and over time, can separate from the tubing and cause a serious gas leak, explosion or fire.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, these uncoated connectors have not been made for more than 20 years, but many are still in use. Although not all uncoated connectors have this flaw, it is very difficult to determine which ones do.
Therefore, any uncoated brass connector should be replaced immediately with a new plastic-coated brass or stainless steel connector. Connectors can wear out from too much moving, bending or corrosion and should be replaced whenever the appliance is moved or relocated. Warning: Only a qualified professional plumber, HVAC or appliance repair contractor should inspect and, if needed, replace your connector. Moving the appliance, even slightly, can cause the complete failure of one of these older, weakened connectors and possible result in a deadly fire or explosion.
Many older gas appliances have a small, continuously burning gas flame, the pilot light, that ignites the main burner. Newer models have electric igniters. It is important to know which appliances have a pilot light and always refer to the manufacturer's relighting instructions or call a heating equipment professional to relight the pilot light.