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Why Do I Smell Gas When My Furnace Kicks On?

Smelling gas when your furnace kicks on can be a disconcerting experience. As a homeowner, you should know that the smell of gas inside your home should never be ignored as it can indicate a potentially dangerous situation. Keep reading to find out why you might smell gas, what steps you should take, and how to prevent it in the future.

Understanding Natural Gas and Its Odor

Natural gas is the most common type of fuel used for heating homes. It’s colorless, tasteless, and odorless in its natural state. However, gas companies add a chemical called mercaptan to give it a distinct odor. This smell, often likened to rotten eggs, serves as a safety mechanism to alert you to potential gas leaks.

The Heat Exchanger: A Common Culprit

The heat exchanger in your gas furnace plays a crucial role in heating your home. It separates the combustion chamber from the breathable air in your house. However, a cracked heat exchanger can cause furnace gas leaks, leading to the smell of gas when your furnace kicks on.

A furnace inspection by an Air Specialties HVAC technician can help detect a cracked heat exchanger. Regularly scheduled maintenance and furnace services in New Haven, CT are essential in preventing this issue.

Gas Lines and Furnace Exhaust

Gas lines supply natural gas to your furnace, while the furnace exhaust vents the combustion gases out of your home. A leak in either of these systems can result in a gas smell.

Leak detection in gas lines should always be carried out by professionals. If you smell gas near your furnace, it’s best to call an HVAC technician for a thorough inspection. They have the necessary tools and expertise to detect gas leaks and carry out necessary furnace repairs.

Incomplete Burn in the Combustion Chamber

Sometimes, the gas smell could be due to an incomplete burn in the combustion chamber. This usually happens when the furnace short cycles, i.e., when it turns off before reaching the desired temperature. An incomplete burn can cause an insignificant amount of unburnt gas to enter your home, resulting in a gas odor.

In such cases, a tune-up of your furnace can help ensure it’s working properly and prevent the smell of gas when it kicks on.

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Threat

While a natural gas leak is dangerous due to the risk of fire or explosion, it’s not the only threat. Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of the combustion process in gas furnaces, is a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly in high concentrations.

Carbon monoxide detectors are a crucial safety feature in any home with a gas furnace. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, you should leave your home immediately and call your local fire department.

What To Do If You Smell Gas

If you smell gas when your furnace kicks on, it’s essential to take immediate action. And if the smell lingers, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Turn off your furnace and open windows for cross ventilation. Avoid using anything that could create a spark, such as light switches, phones, or garbage disposals. Immediately leave the house and contact your gas company or local fire department.

Preventing Gas Smells: The Importance of Regular Maintenance

Preventing gas smells starts with regular furnace service and routine maintenance. An HVAC technician can conduct a thorough inspection of your furnace, including the heat exchanger, gas line, and venting system. They can detect potential issues before they become significant problems, ensuring your furnace operates safely and efficiently.

Stay Comfortable and Safe With Air Specialties

If you’re experiencing a gas smell when your furnace kicks on, don’t hesitate to contact Air Specialties. Our team of experienced technicians can provide a comprehensive furnace inspection in New Haven, CT — ensuring your heating system is safe and functioning at its best. Remember, when it comes to gas leaks, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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