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Natural gas is a common fuel that is used for homes in Sun City and the West Valley. It is used for cooking, heating, and other daily needs. If you have natural gas appliances in your home, you may be concerned about problems that can arise from gas leaks. Because natural gas leaks can cause health issues, fires, and even explosions, we understand why you feel alarmed when you smell natural gas near your furnace.

Benefits of Natural Gas Furnaces

Natural gas furnaces offer several benefits for homeowners in Sun City, such as:

  • Approximately 50% to 70% lower energy costs compared to electric furnaces
  • Shorter run times compared to electric furnaces
  • More than 95% energy efficient
  • May continue to operate during power outages
  • Clean burning fuel

Safety Features of Natural Gas Furnaces

Natural gas furnaces have several safety features to prevent leaks. The unit has a limit switch that monitors the temperature inside the combustion chamber of the furnace. The combustion chamber is where the natural gas is used to generate the heat that warms the air. When the limit switch detects a temperature that is higher than a preset threshold, it automatically shuts off the furnace. This helps to prevent fires and explosions as well as carbon monoxide that may enter your home. Older natural gas furnaces have thermocouples to ensure that the pilot light is working properly, and newer units are designed with mercury flame sensors that turn the pilot light on and off as needed. Newer units also have air pressure switches to improve safety of the units. Even with the safety features of your furnace, we always recommend that homeowners install carbon monoxide detectors. It is best to put these devices near your furnace and other natural gas appliances.

What Does Natural Gas Smell Like?

Natural gas on its own has no smell, and it is invisible. Because of the serious problems that occur with natural gas leaks, companies are required to add a substance that gives the gas a rotten egg odor. To some Sun City homeowners, natural gas with the additive smells like Sulphur. If you notice this type of smell near your furnace, you should pay attention.

What Are the Dangers of Natural Gas Leaks?

If you notice the smell of natural gas near your furnace when it first turns on, you may have a minor leak in the system. Call Sun City Mechanical to schedule a time for one of our technicians to come by and inspect the heating system. If you notice a continuous smell of natural gas anywhere in your house or coming out of the vents, the problem is more serious.

What Causes the Smell of Natural Gas?

Under ideal conditions, you should never smell natural gas in your home. If you do, or if your carbon monoxide detector goes off, you have a problem that needs to be addressed by a professional. You may have a leak inside the furnace, such as at the gas valve or pilot light. Gas can also build up in the area around the furnace due to a leak in the gas pipe or external valve. Do not try to troubleshoot the problem on your own. Inhaling natural gas for any period of time is harmful.

What to Do When You Smell Natural Gas

Older furnaces often produce a smell of natural gas when they are turned on or the first time during the winter. If the smell only lasts for a minute or less and then never returns, it’s most likely only the burning off of dust that has collected on the unit. If the smell happens every time the furnace powers on, a technician needs to inspect the unit. If the smell is strong and persistent, you need to act quickly to protect your family. Open the doors and windows, gather your family, and go outside. You should call 911 and the gas company right away.

Health Effects of Natural Gas Leaks

If you have ever walked by a natural gas line outside and you smell a leak, you know that it can cause you to feel lightheaded and nauseous. The effects of natural gas leaks inside your home cause more serious problems because you’re more likely to inhale the gas over a period of time. Natural gas leaks inside Sun City homes may cause:

  • Blisters on the skin
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Feelings of being lightheaded or dizzy
  • Irritation in the throat or eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches

Your houseplants and pets also suffer when you have a gas leak in your home. Because oxygen levels decrease, houseplants leaves shrivel up and die. Your pets have lower tolerance for natural gas inhalation, so you should watch for the same symptoms in them as you do for your family. The smaller the pet, the quicker and more severe the effects of natural gas inhalation. Natural gas inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning produce the same effects.

Gas Leaks From Your Furnace

Having a gas leak in your furnace may not necessarily mean that the unit needs to be replaced. In many cases, a technician from Sun City Mechanical can make repairs to ensure the safety and energy efficiency of the equipment. If the problem is more extensive, the furnace may need to be replaced. You may also need to have the gas lines inspected and repaired or replaced. Should you need a new furnace, we can help! We have models for every size house and budget in the Sun City and West Valley area.

Replacing Your Natural Gas Furnace

Replacing your natural gas furnace can be done with a new gas or electric model as well as a heat pump. The process is much easier than for homeowners who want to replace an electric furnace with a natural gas model. That’s because a gas model will require new gas lines. Heat pumps are excellent options for upgrading your HVAC system. These units provide both heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, so you can replace a furnace and AC unit at the same time. Heat pumps offer higher energy efficiency, longer lifetimes, and more reliability, as well as other advantages. They rely only on electricity to operate. If you would like to learn more about heat pumps, give us a call.

Help for Your Natural Gas Furnace

Since 2003, Sun City Mechanical has helped homeowners in Sun City and the West Valley with all their heating and cooling needs. If you suspect that your furnace has a natural gas leak, take steps to protect your family, and then call us for service. We offer 24/7 emergency repairs. Be sure to ask about our other services. We offer complete installation, repair, and maintenance for cooling systems as well as plumbing. Sun City Mechanical is accredited with the Better Business Bureau, and all our technicians are licensed and certified. You can count on us for reliable, professional service, no matter how large or small the job.