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By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

November 28, 2016 (San Diego) -- This cold front and much needed rain are prompting people to turn on their heaters/furnaces for the first time in a long time. This time of year fire departments respond increasingly to calls of “odor of gas inside.”

Most heaters have not been used in months. Heating appliances should be serviced annually to keep them operating safely and efficiently. A licensed heating contractor or your California Gas Co. Representative can provide this service for you.

Here are a few tips for a safe, warm, and energy-efficient winter:

• Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor or Southern California Gas Co rep.

• Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.

Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.

• Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.

• When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor or Southern California Gas Co rep to have the condition corrected.

• Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.

• Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Again, the best advice is to contact a licensed qualified heating contractor or Southern California Gas Co. Representative inspect your furnace.

*Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.


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