Maintain Your Appliances!

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When you turn on your shower faucet hot water comes out. When you turn the thermostat up it gets warmer in your house. Your clothes go into the clothes drier wet and come out dry, the same way your food goes into the oven raw and comes out cooked. So long as these rules hold true most of us never give a second thought to our gas (or oil or propane)-fired appliances, but we should.

The simple truth is that, if not properly maintained, your appliances could turn into the most dangerous things in your home. Forget sharp knives, poison oak or your killer doberman, if you don’t maintain your appliances they can cause you a world of pain, or even death through fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning (see Combustion Safety Week articles 1 and 2).

So what should you do?

Most importantly, have a licensed contractor do an inspection of your gas piping, gas appliances and heating system every year. You wouldn’t drive your car around for a year with out having a qualified mechanic inspect it, and your home appliances are no different. A well-qualified professional can detect problems before they become dangerous and advise you on the best course of action.

There is more that you can do in the period between check-ups. Run kitchen exhaust fans when gas appliances are used and make sure CO detectors in the home have fresh batteries. Also, be aware of your appliances. Take notice of changes in how well they function, strange smells and noises. Call a licensed contractor immediately if you notice any of the following red flags (courtesy of Vermont Gas):

  • Gas flames that appear pale or wavy
  • Gaps, rust or blocks in vents, or vents that do not lead outdoors
  • Strange smells
  • Appliances that are rusted or are covered in thick dust
  • Problems with furnace air filters, such as clogs, excessive dirt or the complete absence of filters.
  • Appliance valves that are missing, or improperly installed
  • The absence of a fire door on a gas appliance
  • Soot near burners or vents
  • Gas burners in a garage installed less than 18 inches above the floor
  • Venting that does not conform to the manufacturers recommendations
  • Discoloration around burners, access doors or vent area
  • Noisy appliances
  • Water/flood damaged appliances

Important Tip: Never store flammable liquids such as paint thinners or gasoline near appliances, and never hang things on gas piping or vents, even rags or clothes.

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