Furnaces powered by natural gas are a common way to heat homes in our area. Natural gas is for the most part a very safe fuel, but there are some hazards associated with it and it pays to be on the alert for gas leaks especially. Leaking gas can cause fires and explosions, and can lead to sickness and even death from inhalation of fumes.
Here’s what you need to know.
Hazards of Gas Leaks
Natural gas leaks in enclosed spaces can lead to a lack of oxygen and symptoms of hypoxia, including fatigue, shortness of breath, headache and loss of consciousness. Fortunately, most of us can smell leaking natural gas, due to the presence of mercaptan, a substance added to the gas that gives it its rotten egg smell.
Of more concern is the possibility of explosions or fires when gas leaks into an enclosed space. A spark or static can easily ignite this gas. Besides the smell of natural gas, other signs of a leak include these:
- Dirt blowing into the air
- Dead vegetation near the pipeline
- Hissing, whistling sound near a pipeline
Inside your home, gas can leak from pipes that lead to any fuel-powered appliance, such as a water heater or gas range or your HVAC system.
Another hazard from natural gas-powered appliances can be carbon monoxide leaks. CO is a deadly gas that is a byproduct of the combustion process. With a gas furnace, CO is sometimes a concern when it leaks from a cracked heat exchanger. Also, the furnace exhaust flue may develop a gas leak.
Dealing With Gas Leaks
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, clear out all people and pets right away. Do not turn on a light, use a cell phone to call in the emergency or light a match. Go outside to call for help. Call 911, the gas company or the fire department. Don’t go back into the house until it is declared safe.
For more on handling gas leaks, contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We serve Orlando and the surrounding area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).