Most homes in the Houston area rely on natural gas furnaces for heat. Although this is an affordable way to keep your family comfortable during the winter, natural gas does have some issues that concern homeowners. One of the most common situations that alarm homeowners is an unusual odor around the furnace. If you notice an odor near your furnace, Texas Pride is happy to help. There are times, though, when a smell near your furnace is not necessarily serious.
What Does Natural Gas Smell Like?
Natural gas, as well as propane, is odorless. Because gas leaks can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, explosions, and fires, a substance is added by the gas company to produce a distinctive smell. This is the rotten egg or sulfur odor that you notice when there is a gas leak.
Gas Leak Emergencies
If you notice a rotten egg or sulfur smell in your house, it is always best to take precautions until you know for certain what is causing the problem. You should not try to troubleshoot the issue on your own. We recommend that you open all windows and doors, gather your family, and move outside. Call 911 and the gas company. Once your property is deemed safe, contact Texas Pride to have a technician come by and inspect your heating system.
Effects of Carbon Monoxide
In addition to the risk of fires and explosions, natural gas leaks can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is not only produced during gas leaks but also as a byproduct of the combustion process that is necessary to heat your home with natural gas. Every year, thousands of people in the Houston area are seen in the emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide can worsen many chronic medical conditions and cause a range of symptoms, as well as require hospitalization. In the worse scenarios, carbon monoxide poisoning is fatal. The experts at Texas Pride recommend that you install a carbon monoxide detector if you have any natural gas appliances in your home. You may need more than one to adequately protect your family.
1. Gas Exhaust
Your natural gas furnace is designed to remove excess natural gas, carbon monoxide, and combustion byproducts through a chimney, where it is released into the air outdoors. If you have windows near the chimney or if it is a windy day, the gas exhaust can come in through open windows. We recommend that you close the windows. You should also check around your furnace to see if you smell the gas in that area.
2. Cycling On
Another situation in which homeowners report smelling gas near the furnace is when the unit powers on to heat the home. The aroma should only last for less than one minute. Although this is not an emergency situation, it is also not normal. Furnaces are designed to contain natural gas, so you likely have a small leak or another issue. Call us to schedule an appointment with one of our technicians.
3. First Use in the Winter
If you notice a gas smell when you first turn on your furnace in the winter, this is quite common. Most of what you smell is dust being burned off by the furnace. This is another situation where the smell should last less than one minute. If the smell lasts longer, we recommend routine maintenance by one of our technicians.
4. Propane Appliances
Many homeowners are relieved when our technicians explain that what they are smelling is propane from the grills. Because natural gas and propane are both treated with the same substance to produce the rotten egg smell, it is sometimes hard to determine the origin of the odor. Make sure that the propane valve is completely turned off, and store the grill away from your home in the winter.
5. Actual Rotten Eggs
If you notice the distinctive smell of natural gas in your home, it might actually be rotten eggs. Check around the exterior of your home for any trash that may be causing the distinctive aroma. Compost piles can also cause a smell that is similar to the Sulphur aroma of natural gas.
Professional Heating and Cooling Services
Since 1984, Texas Pride has helped Houston homeowners with all their heating and cooling needs. We believe in building customers for life, so we are here anytime you need us. Call us today to learn more about our company and schedule an appointment with a technician.