As with any type of energy, the key to safety is common sense, but there are a few special rules to keep in mind around natural gas appliances:
The right way:
- DO leave at least 18 inches of clearance around your gas furnace and water heater, and at least one inch around gas stoves and clothes dryers.
- DO keep paints, papers, aerosol sprays and other flammables away from gas appliances.
- DO make sure the vent hood, pipes and flues aren't blocked, cracked or corroded.
- DO have gas appliances professionally installed. This will ensure that all the connections are secure, all vent pipes and flues are clean and undamaged, and that the appliance is adjusted properly.
The wrong way:
- DON'T store or stack boxes, laundry or other materials around the base of a gas appliance.
- DON'T let kids play on or around gas equipment, including meters and pipes.
- DON'T wear long sleeves around a gas stove, and keep towels and potholders away from the open flame.
- DON’T try to use a gas oven or range to heat a room - the appliance will deplete oxygen from the air, causing asphyxiation or deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Good flame vs. bad flameOne quick way to tell if a natural gas appliance is getting enough oxygen and is adjusted properly is to check the color of the flame on the pilot light.
A pilot or burner flame light should be about 90 percent blue. A yellow flame indicates the appliance isn't working right and could be giving off harmful fumes - have it checked by a service technician right away.
Keep in mind that not all problems with gas appliances will have the symptom of a yellow pilot light - and not all pilot lights are visible. Look for excessive ash or soot around a pilot light opening or air ducts, lengthy "warm-up" times and strange noises or odors.
Check your connections
If you have natural gas appliances, when was the last time you thought about the connector that joins the appliance to the gas line?
Older flexible connectors made of uncoated brass can weaken or crack over time, which could lead to a dangerous and deadly gas leak.
Any uncoated brass gas appliance connector should be replaced immediately with a new stainless steel connector.
To industry knowledge, these dangerous connectors have not been made for more than 25 years, but you might still have one in use on an older appliance, including a clothes dryer, water heater, space heater, or stove.
Although not all uncoated brass connectors have this flaw, it is very difficult to tell which ones do. Follow these guidelines to keep your family and home safe:
- Avoid moving natural gas appliances — stressing connectors can cause them to crack and leak.
- Only a qualified professional should check your connector and replace it.
- Avoid repeated use of cleaning solutions or insect sprays around appliance connectors — these solutions can cause corrosion.
- Do not allow wiring or other objects to touch the connector.
- Connectors should always be replaced whenever an appliance is replaced or moved from its location.
- Do not move your gas appliances to check the connectors yourself. The connectors can break easily, if moved even slightly, possibly resulting in a deadly fire or explosion. Only a qualified professional should check your connector and replace it if needed.