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Basic Appliance Safety
As part of our home energy audit we test the safety of all the gas appliances in the home, such as furnaces, water heaters and stoves. It is not uncommon for us to find serious health hazards due to issues with these appliances. This is one of the out-of-site and out-of-mind issues that may never be an issue until something changes in the home. For example, in older homes appliances are often drawing combustion air from inside of the home. Because the house is leaky there is plenty of fresh air to provide proper combustion; however, if new windows are installed and a large amount of the air infiltration is reduced, suddenly there may not be enough ventilation for proper combustion. Now the home may have issues with combustion by-products spilling into the house, back-drafting of the burner flames or carbon-monoxide.
A gas leak is another issue that is commonly undiagnosed for years. Usually leaks occur at the gas fittings right near the appliances. In the case of furnaces and water heaters, these appliances are in the crawlspace or attic and the small leaks dissipate into the air. But sometimes the gas can reach inside the house causing low-grade respiratory illness and headaches. And, small gas leaks usually get worse over time which can lead to a serious safety issue. It’s much better to catch them early and make the repairs.
•Immediate Safety First- If you do find a gas leak safety first is the most important mantra to follow. If the smell of a gas leak is strong or you can actually hear the sound of gas leaking, leave the building immediately and call for emergency help. Do not switch on lights or use any electrical appliance.
• Check the Stove - If the smell of the gas is not very strong and you can breathe easily check the stove. Sometimes homeowners can leave the gas stove on by a small degree. All knobs should be definitely in the OFF position.
•Check the Oven - On older ovens, check the control knob. Make sure it is in the OFF position. If it is a modern oven that is electronic press the OFF or CANCEL buttons.
•Contact the gas company. Most utilities like PG&E will come out to your home and test for gas leaks. More information from the PG&E website.
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