My Furnace Smells Like Gas: Is That Normal?

The Short Answer Is: It is not normal to smell gas near your furnace. The presence of a gas odor can indicate a potentially dangerous gas leak, which should be taken seriously. If you suspect a gas leak, immediately evacuate your home, call the gas company or emergency services, and do not attempt to fix the issue yourself. Once the gas company has confirmed that it's safe to return, you can then contact a furnace repair technician to address any problems with your furnace that may have caused the leak.

Do you smell gas inside your home or near your gas furnace? A gas leak can pose a hazard. It can cause fires and may pose contamination risks for occupants of your home.

So when you think you detect a gas leak, you may be alarmed. Here are some essential facts about gas leaks and how to tell if it is time to call for professional help.

Here's Why You Could Smell Gas In Your Home

If you experience a faint smell of gas inside your house, it could be from one of the following reasons:

Gas Odors from Regular Emissions

If you have not run your furnace in a long time, it is normal for small quantities of gas to escape during cycling. Dust and debris may accumulate on the heat exchanger and other parts of your furnace during the summer. There could be dust within components of your system if it is old and not maintained regularly.

The faint odor may be from incomplete combustion caused by the presence of debris. Dust prevents the gas from burning completely, and some of it escapes from the exhaust. It may overwork your system and increase its energy consumption in the process.

Sometimes, gas is released from your furnace every time you start it. The odor is usually faint and should dissipate within a short time when you open the windows. If the odor seems to be spread across your house and does not go away, it is probably a leak.

A leak could pose fire and pollution hazards in your home. The best course of action is to talk to a certified technician. Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing will respond to your call and will promptly arrive at your home for furnace repair services.

A Back-Drafting Furnace

A furnace exhaust must always dispense fumes from the system safely to the outdoors. Back-drafting exhaust fumes may contain small quantities of unburned gas that you may detect around your home. The gases could be finding their way back into the interior through the windows.

Your exhaust system may also have defects that can allow dangerous gases into your home. A substandard installation is usually the reason behind those faults. Routine maintenance of your furnace can find faults and prevent such issues from cropping up.

Like in other states, Ohio has regulations that stipulate clearance distances for oil and gas furnace venting systems. They should terminate at least 5 feet above the highest connected appliances. For wall-mounted draft systems, the venting terminal shall be 12 inches away from a window, door, or inlet. The clearance distance is essential to ensure that fumes do not get back into the interior.

You need to organize an inspection of your furnace once a year before winter. The exhaust piping may have blockages caused by debris, dust, or bird nests. Such blockages constrict airflow and prevent the exhaust from dispensing gases properly. Avoid placing furnishings around the exhaust as it can cause problems with airflow.

A Defective Furnace Heat Exchanger

A cracked heat exchanger could be the reason behind the smell of gas in your home. The heat exchanger may crack because of overheating. As such, it may fail to burn the gases during combustion completely. In the process, it produces carbon monoxide and unburned gas.

The unburned fumes can get back into the interior, posing a hazard in your home. A defective heat exchanger is an intricate component of your furnace. It requires professional skills to troubleshoot and repair. After a professional evaluation, you may have to replace the heat exchanger.

Another sign that your heat exchanger is cracked is if your furnace produces a lot of soot. Furnace components may corrode. You can consult Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for dependable repair services in Worthington.

Leaks in the Gas Line or Valve

It is also possible that your furnace is leaking gas. Natural gas and propane are usually odorless and colorless in their purest forms. But regulations require gas companies to add a chemical called mercaptan for safety. So when there is a leak, you may detect the smell of rotten eggs.

A leak coming from your system may linger for some time, even after you open the windows and doors. If the odor is spread throughout your home, there is likely a leak coming from the furnace or gas line. Such issues are best handled by a certified professional to avoid hazards.

If your furnace has leaks, it will burn with a yellow flame because of incomplete combustion. Normally, the flame is clear blue. The yellow color could be a sign of dirt on the burner, which prevents the gas and oxygen from mixing properly.

Another sign of a leak is if you notice hissing sounds from around your furnace. There could be a faulty connection that is allowing gas to escape into the interior. You may notice that houseplants in your home are dying. Greenery on your lawn may also show signs of yellowing if there is a leak on the gas line that runs from the supply to your home.

Gas Leaks and Dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

If there is a leak, occupants of the house may experience sickness and fatigue. Some symptoms of natural gas poisoning include nausea, memory loss, inability to concentrate, and severe migraines.

A gas leak is usually accompanied by carbon monoxide gas. Your furnace will often release carbon monoxide alongside the gases present during a leak. Incomplete combustion processes will produce carbon dioxide and significant quantities of carbon monoxide.

When carbon monoxide gets into the blood, it limits the uptake of oxygen. Low levels of exposure may trigger vomiting, dizziness, and headaches. Significant quantities of carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness, coma, and death. Every year, 4,000 Americans visit the emergency room, and 400 die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

To reduce the risk of CO poisoning, avoid using the generator indoors or in enclosed spaces in winter. Wood-burning stoves and propane equipment are other common culprits during the cold season. Also, your furnace ought to have a proper venting system that complies with local regulations.

Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, a CO detector is necessary to prevent hazards in your home. You must organize for an inspection of your furnace along with the carbon monoxide detector before winter. Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing‘s team in Worthington can offer reliable tune-up services to keep your system safe and efficient.

What to Do in Case of a Gas Leak

If you suspect there is a leak, the best course of action is to switch off your system and seek professional help. Call 911, evacuate the house, and stay away until the source of the leak is identified and addressed.

Remember to open the windows to allow any toxic gases that may be accumulating in the interior to escape. If anyone in your home shows symptoms of exposure to natural gas or carbon monoxide, they should seek medical attention.

Switch off any electronic appliances in your home. Even the smallest electrical arc can start a fire in the presence of gases like propane or natural gas. You will also need to plan for an inspection of your gas line or furnace.

You can depend on our comprehensive maintenance plans to keep your furnace safe from leaks and faults. We are a certified Lennox Dealer with experience in repairs, maintenance, and replacement of heating and cooling systems. Call Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today and schedule an appointment.

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