gas smell from furnace

As furnace owners, we must always prioritize our safety, no matter how small or big an issue may be. From gas leaks and dangers of carbon monoxide to minor and more common issues, you should know how to deal with it all to ensure there are no dangerous situations arising in your home or building.

In this article, we’re going into detail about why your furnace smells like gas and what you should do about it.

Is It Normal to Smell Gas Near Your Furnace?

Some people, particularly when they initially turn on their furnace, report smelling a slight gas odor near the appliance. This could be considered typical because mercaptan, a safety ingredient in natural gas, gives out a strong odor similar to rotten eggs. On the other hand, you should not ignore a gas smell that won’t go away, no matter how powerful it is as it could indicate a gas leak.

Immediate Steps to Take If You Smell Gas

1. Do Not Ignore the Smell

Never ignore any indication of gas, no matter how subtle. The first step in dealing with a gas leak—no matter how small—is to recognize the danger it poses.

2. Evacuate the Premises

Get everyone out of the building as soon as possible. Evacuation could be delayed and danger increased if you pause to collect possessions or try to find the leak’s origin.

3. Avoid Triggering an Ignition

Stay away from anything that could cause the gas to ignite as you exit. Please refrain from using any electrical switches, cell phones, matches, or starting a car in the vicinity of the building. Gas can be ignited by sparks produced by these operations.

4. Shut Off the Gas Supply

When it’s safe to do so, turn off the main gas valve to your house right away. By reducing the amount of gas that can enter the house, this measure helps reduce the likelihood of accumulation and igniting. Get to know your gas shutdown valve’s location and how to use it before an emergency happens.

5. Open Doors and Windows

To let fresh air in, open the doors and windows as you leave. This contributes to lowering the gas concentration, which in turn lowers the risk of an unsafe environment. But you should only do this if it’s directly in the way of your escape route and you can do it safely and fast.

6. Call for Professional Help

Please contact HVAC emergency services or the 24-hour helpline of your gas company as soon as you are outside and away from the area where you suspect a gas leak. Notify them of anything that’s important, including how strong the odor is and any other symptoms you’ve seen. Pay close attention to what they say.

7. Do Not Re-enter the Premises

Until authorities say it’s safe to go back inside, remain outside. You should never assume that the odor has gone because there may be dangerous pockets of gas accumulation or persistent leakage.

8. Seek Medical Attention if Necessary

Quick medical assistance is required in the event that anyone has gas-related symptoms like lightheadedness, queasy stomach, or headaches. Notifying medical staff of the presence of gas exposure is critical in order to facilitate the administration of proper therapy

Listed below are the immediate steps you should take to ensure safety:

Get a Carbon Monoxide detector for your home to ensure that it avoids any such situation in the future.

Additional Tip
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For starters, we will show up on time with a fully stocked service van, eager to resolve your heating, cooling, plumbing or electrical problem.

Top reasons why your furnace smells like gas

There may be a slight gas odor when you first turn on your furnace after it has been idle for a long time, as when the heating season begins. Usually, this happens and it's nothing to be worried about. When natural gas and air ignite in a furnace, a tiny amount of gas can be released into the air before complete combustion stability is achieved, which is the main cause of the odor.

Frequency: After the summertime ends and the winter begins or in extended periods of inactivity are the most common times for this to happen.

Risk Level: Low, as long as the odor goes away soon.

When first released into the atmosphere, natural gas is undetectable since it lacks both color and smell. Mercaptan is an additive that gas companies use to make natural gas safer. It gives out a pungent odor that many people say smells like spoiled eggs. Because gas leaks can go undetected until they cause major health and safety problems, this feature is essential because it is an inherent safety measure that warns inhabitants of the danger.

Frequency: Always present in a natural gas furnace.

Risk Level: Minimal when temporary; substantial when ongoing.

As with startup emissions, this pungent odor can occasionally be traced back to the furnace's initial activation, or it can become noticeable when there are small leaks at the gas line connections to the furnace. In particular, homeowners should be on the lookout for this odor and take it as a signal to inspect their systems or get in touch with a consultant. One preventative precaution is to check the gas pipes and connections on a regular basis for signs of wear and damage and to make sure they are secure.

There are a number of potential causes of incomplete combustion in a furnace, including incorrect settings, broken equipment, or internal blockages. Raw gas, carbon monoxide, and other combustion byproducts can be released into your home when gas fails to burn entirely, posing serious health dangers.

Frequency: If the furnace isn't working properly, this could happen at any moment.

Risk Level: Moderate to high—since this could mean that you need to fix it right away.

Incomplete combustion can be identified by the accumulation of soot around the furnace, a flame that is yellow or orange instead of clear blue, and an abnormally high level of condensation on cold surfaces such as windows. All of these signs point to a furnace that isn't working properly, which means it's releasing toxic gases into your home.

There is an urgent need to address gas smells near furnaces caused by leaking gas lines or valves because of the significant danger of fire and explosion. The gas supply line, which runs from the meter to the furnace, or the valves that regulate the gas flow to the furnace are potential points of failure. Over time, physical damage, corrosion, or wear can undermine the integrity of these components and could potentially lead to natural gas poisoning.

Frequency: Depends, but the furnace and its parts are more likely to cause problems as they get older.

Risk Level: High because of the possibility of explosions or flames.

There could be an abrupt or slow release of gas when gas lines or valves leak. Physical damage or a major system failure is a common cause of sudden leaks, which can cause a dangerous and considerable release of gas. Corrosion, the gradual breakdown of valve seals or pipe joints, or both can cause leaks to occur over time, with an escalating gas smell being a common indicator.

To keep your home at a safe temperature, the heat exchanger is an essential component of your furnace. It prevents the combustion process from contaminating the air that circulates in your house. Heat can be transferred through a working heat exchanger without combustion gases contaminating the air we breathe.

The stress of continuous heating and cooling, corrosion, or just plain old age can cause heat exchangers to crack with time. Natural gas and carbon monoxide can enter into your home through these cracks, causing serious health problems.

Frequency: The possibility of a cracked heat exchanger increases with the age of the unit or with its exposure to extended periods of stress without proper maintenance.

Risk Level: Extremely high level of risk. If you smell this kind of gas leak, immediately evacuate the area. The serious and perhaps deadly carbon monoxide/CO poisoning that can result from heat exchangers that have cracked poses a substantial threat to public safety. It is best to have a detector in place to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning issues in the future.

The term "backdrafting" describes the phenomenon wherein the furnace exhaust is pulled back into the building instead of being vented outdoors. There are a number of potential causes for this, including airflow obstructions, faulty mechanical components (such as an exhaust fan), or even weather conditions that prevent regular airflow.

Some common signs of back-drafting include a rise in relative humidity or condensation inside windows close to the furnace and a persistent gas smell in the area, especially after the furnace has turned off.

Damage to the vent system, whether from harsh weather or animal interference, or sloppy installation can lead to improper venting. Indoor air quality is drastically reduced by these gasses, which, if left unchecked, can cause health problems.

Frequency: Incorrect installation or the influence of outside forces, such as weather, are two common causes of this occurrence.

Risk Level: This is a potentially dangerous gas leak. Not only can backdrafting cause gas fumes to be present, but it also raises the possibility of carbon monoxide accumulation in the house.

Particularly in areas with abundant wildlife or where trees and other forms of natural debris can readily clog external vents, obstructions to flues pose a substantial hazard. The accumulation of exhaust gases in the residence might be caused by anything that blocks their flow out of the furnace vent. Common clog-causing materials include leaves, nests of birds, and accumulations of snow or ice.

Frequency: The months of fall and spring, when animals are looking for places to lay their eggs, and winter, when there is snow, are the most common times of year.

Risk Level: The level of risk can range from moderate to high, influenced by how severe the obstruction is. Dangerous buildups of gas and other exhaust components inside the home might occur if a vent is completely blocked.

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Professional Help is one call away

If you find yourself in a situation where you experience persistent gas smell and it’s not reducing, call Comfort Union. We’ll be there to look at all the issues in your furnace and make sure that you don’t face any dangerous situations because of it.

Not only furnaces, but our expertise expands to air conditioners, heat pumps, and other systems as well.

Give us a call at 403-399-7903 today and we’ll respond right away!

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