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Are Gas Furnaces Dangerous?

The most common type of heating system in the U.S. is the natural gas-powered furnace. This fact alone tells you a lot about the safety of gas furnaces: if they were actually “dangerous” installations, there would be far fewer of them, and electric-powered furnaces would be far more popular.

But gas furnaces still have a—mostly inaccurate—reputation as heating systems that present significant risks for a home. We’d like to dispel this negative reputation, along with reminders about how to ensure the safest possible operation from the furnace is your home.

Furnaces contain special safety features

Contemporary furnaces are designed with safety as the uppermost concern. Manufacturers put safety features into each unit that reduces the chances of gas leaks, overheating, and fire hazards. For example, the furnace limit switch will shut off the burners and fans if the temperature rises too high. Thermocouples and mercury sensors detect if the pilot light or ignition fails and then will shut off the gas flow so there isn’t a dangerous build-up of combustible gases.

Maintenance reduces the chance of hazards to almost nothing

A furnace can become unsafe if it goes without annual maintenance visits. However, any heating system needs to receive annual maintenance to keep it work at its best, so arranging for regular furnace maintenance isn’t an “extra” step that homeowners need to take—it’s just the standard. Maintenance technicians will catch any place where a furnace might develop gas leaks or combustion dangers and have the problem fixed early—or else recommend replacing the furnace with a newer unit.

Precautions in the rest of the home will further reduce risks

If you use natural gas in your home for any appliance, you must have carbon monoxide detectors installed to provide early warning of gas leaks. Also make sure that area around your furnace is kept clear of combustible material (such as paint thinner), and that there is at least 6” clearance around vent pipes. Inform children in the house not to play around the furnace, as its surface will become hot.

Malek Heating & Cooling offers furnace services in Evanston, IL that will help see that your home stays safe each winter.

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