What’s that smell? 6 warning signs from your furnace | TribLIVE.com
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What’s that smell? 6 warning signs from your furnace

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Maybe it really isn’t your old dog this time. Or even dad, for that matter.

You know how it is.

You’re sitting on the couch, maybe watching TV, when you smell something, well, funky. Like rotten eggs.

You cast an accusing side eye at the others in the room. Immediately the protestations of innocence begin.

The dog looks up at you with a face that says he’s pure of heart and free of sin. Dad raises his hands in the air, palms facing you.

“What? It wasn’t me. I didn’t do anything,” he says.

At this time of year they may be telling the truth.

With cool nights here, and colder weather yet to come, you’ve probably turned on the furnace that’s been enjoying a summer off. And now it’s telling you it’s not quite ready for the job ahead.

It pays to listen.

Focusing on furnace safety now is critical to keeping you not only comfortable, but safe this winter. You may think there’s little you can do yourself to keep your furnace operating at its best. But that’s not true.

There are some tell-tale signs that your furnace isn’t performing correctly, and some simple yet important things you can do to make sure it is.

1. Eeew that smell

For starters, pay attention to any rotten egg smell. It’s an additive in natural gas that makes it detectable. If you smell it, you may have a dangerous gas leak. Evacuate immediately and call 911!

2. Creaks, thumps or bangs in the night

Listen to your furnace. It should operate quietly. If it doesn’t, no, that doesn’t mean your house is haunted. It just means that some part of your system is struggling to function properly.

3. Dry and dusty days

Look around your house. If it’s really dusty, or your plants are choking, or your furniture is cracking, that’s a problem. An old, faulty furnace may be drying your home out.

4. A hot and cold house

Notice the temperature in various rooms. Ideally, they should all feel equally warm. If they don’t –some are hot, others are cool or even cold – your furnace may no longer be able to distribute heat evenly throughout your home.

5. Your bills are blowing the bank

Furnaces can lose their efficiency as they age — especially if they haven’t been well-maintained. Soaring utility bills may mean your furnace is no longer up to the task.

6. A yellow flame instead of blue

It might not seem like a big deal — a flame’s a flame. Right? Wrong! A yellow or flickering flame may be a sign that your furnace is putting out poisonous carbon monoxide. If you’ve experienced an unusual number of headaches or other flulike symptoms, carbon monoxide from your furnace could be to blame. If you suspect an issue, open some windows and get outside as you notify your utility, emergency services or a qualified technician.

Furnace safety is nothing to downplay. So if you’re having any of those issues, call a certified professional to come in and give your furnace a checkup.

In the meantime, while you wait, there are some things you can do on your own to promote furnace safety in your home:

  • A simple one is to change your furnace filter monthly. A clean filter, free of lint and dust, allows your furnace to operate at peak efficiency.
  • Be sure, as well, not to store anything flammable – old newspapers or magazines, liquids, cleaning products and the like – near the furnace. It’s the presence of such things that lead to most furnace fires.
  • Likewise, be sure there’s nothing blocking your furnace vents. There’s no value in a furnace pumping out heat if that warmth can’t actually get to where it needs to go.
  • Periodically check your furnace flame. It should burn blue. If it’s yellow or any other color, that’s a sign it needs prompt professional attention.
  • It’s a good idea, as well, to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and then check them periodically to make sure they’re working. They will alert you to any serious issues.

None of these steps are too difficult or too costly. Yet they can go a long way to promoting furnace safety.

So give your furnace some attention now, before things get too cold, and enjoy a safe and comfortable heating season.

Make sure your family is safe and comfortable. Learn more about furnace safety tips by visiting Peoples Gas or click here www.peoples-gas.com/furnacesafety for more information.

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