Most people living in urban areas have a natural gas supply in their home. This supplies energy to appliances in your home such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and cooktops. When properly installed, used and maintained, natural gas is perfectly safe. Gas is also more cost-effective, when compared with electricity, to achieve the same heat output. But if care is not taken in their installation, use and maintenance, gas appliances have the potential to be dangerous.
It’s important that the installation be done correctly and meet the requirements of the provincial gas code, as well as the manufacturer’s instructions. A shortcut or missed step can cause the equipment to operate in a dangerous manner, increasing the risk of:
• fire in the home
• carbon monoxide buildup, or
• damage to the equipment.
An experienced technician can spot issues in an installation and correct them before larger problems manifest.
Even with properly installed equipment, improper use can pose a danger as well. Dry as the literature may be, the homeowner and/or tenant should read the user guide for any gas equipment in the home. An example of common improper use would be cranking a hot water tank to the maximum temperature setting. Besides the additional strain on the tank – and the resulting shortened tank life – this also poses a scalding danger to others in the home. (Children and the elderly are especially at risk, because they don’t react to pain stimuli as quickly.) Proper use of equipment is important for the lifespan of these appliances, as well as the safety of the residents. If no manual is available, a technician would be happy to walk you through the proper operation of your equipment.
Of course, in order for a technician to catch problems with your equipment, or to explain its safe use, he must first be in the home. Annual (or at the very least biannual) maintenance is so important. Aside from making sure everything is running within safe parameters, ensuring components stay clean and free of dust and buildup is essential to the continued efficiency and safe operation. Regularly testing components and replacing as needed will reduce the likelihood of equipment failure. The middle of the winter is no time for the furnace to stop working! It’s best to get maintenance on all your gas appliances at once, saving the cost of separate calls throughout the year.