How to Prevent Gas Leaks in Your Home This Winter

Natural gas has become a popular choice; more than 63 million homes in the United States use natural gas to power appliances, including the furnace or HVAC unit. 

While natural gas is more environmentally friendly compared to coal, oil, or wood, it poses its own risks — including flammability. Detecting when a leak may be present is key to keeping your family and loved ones safe throughout the winter. 

Why Gas Leaks Occur

Gas leaks are often the result of old, inefficient, or negligently maintained appliances. Gas can escape from systems that aren’t fitted well, usually through a gas hose. Older hoses and parts pose a higher risk to the potential of gas leaks. Methane is the main component of natural gas, and according to the EPA, gas leaks are prevalent. These leaks may be harmless, but gas leaks in an enclosed space, such as a crawlspace or a basement, can pose a problem. Many North Carolina residents may recall a 2019 gas explosion at a Durham coffee shop that killed one person.   gas burner with blue and orange flame

That’s one reason we recommend annual inspections of your HVAC unit. During those checks, our team can make sure the system is installed correctly and that all parts are working properly and not leaking. 

Detecting Gas Leaks

If you have a gas leak in your home, you may not notice a smell. Natural gas itself has no scent; one is added later as part of the process to help us detect it. While the odor is one of the expected signs of a gas leak, your furnace’s location may make it difficult to detect. You can also watch for these signs: 

  • A whistling sound
  • Bubbles in standing water
  • Visible damage to pilots or gas line connectors
  • If your flame is a faded orange/yellow rather than firmly blue
  • Burned-looking spots on your lawn 

If you suspect a hose is leaking, contact our team to safely inspect the unit, and don’t light any candles, the oven, or any other flames in your home. 

Physical Symptoms of CO Poisoning 

A related risk this time of year is carbon monoxide, which is found in the heat exchanger of furnaces. Leaking carbon monoxide will make you feel ill. If any of the following symptoms fade away once you step outside or leave your home, you could be undergoing the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

  • Lightheaded and dizzy
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Eye irritations
  • Headaches 
  • Breathing difficulties

Critical tip: Install a carbon monoxide detector on the wall near the floor; it is a dense gas, and the ceiling is not an ideal location for detection.

If you are concerned about a natural gas leak or carbon monoxide, get out of the house and contact the fire department. Even stopping to open a window may be dangerous. Meanwhile, contact 6 and Fix today to inspect your furnace for leaks.