Maintaining Natural Gas Appliances

The Natural Gas Appliance Checklist, provided as a public service by Washington Gas and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, provides guidelines for specific checks recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Gas Association (AGA) for residential natural gas appliances. Have a technician fill out the form while performing your annual inspection. Ask for an explanation of any comments or problems that are discovered during the inspection. Washington Gas and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend annual safety inspections of your natural gas appliances by a qualified technician. 

Washington Gas recommends keeping your gas appliance owner’s manuals available and referring to them regularly. These booklets are provided by the manufacturers of the particular models you own and contain the most complete information about your appliances. For more product safety information, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

How Washington Gas Can Help in an Emergency

We respond immediately and at no charge to customers for any natural gas emergency, such as escaping gas or a malfunctioning appliance. In the event of an emergency, we may be required to turn off gas service to your home or appliance. If your appliance requires repair or replacement, you will be advised to call a licensed natural gas contractor. As with any major service or repair, you may wish to shop around for services and terms that are best for you.

    Tips for Using Gas Appliances Safely

    Below are tips on how to safely and efficiently use your gas appliances.

    • Have a licensed contractor perform annual inspections of your natural gas equipment

      Have a licensed natural gas contractor perform an annual pre-winter check of your natural gas heating equipment — including furnaces, boilers, water heaters, pilot and burner chambers, venting systems, thermostats and/or unvented space heaters. If you see or suspect something is wrong with your heating system, turn it off immediately and call a repair service.
    • Keep flammable objects away from all appliances

      Many gas appliances have open burners. Older models also have pilot lights that burn continuously. It is very important to keep the area around your appliances clear of all flammable objects and substances, particularly gasoline and other fuel containers, paints, adhesives, cleaning solvents and oily rags, which create a fire hazard. Also make sure not use or store flammable products in the same room or area where a water heater or any other gas appliance is installed.
    • Install appliances according to applicable building codes

      Any natural gas appliance located in a garage or similar location must be installed according to the applicable building code, so that all burners and burner ignition devices are at least 18 inches above the floor.
    • Have a licensed contractor check flues and vent pipes

      Broken, rusted, unsealed gaps or rotted-out areas in flue venting pipes release combustion products. Be sure to have the flues and vent pipes replaced and appliances checked by a licensed contractor.
    • How to check if flues (metal pipes) are venting properly

      Indoor air quality can be affected when the products of gas combustion are not vented properly. If your appliances require venting through flues (metal pipes), a match test can be used to find out if your venting is effective. Once the burner is lit and operating normally, wait approximately 30 seconds and then hold a lighted match just below the flue-diverter on water heaters, furnaces and boilers. If the flame leans towards you, flutters downward or goes out, the system is not drawing combustion particles outside through the vent or the flue. If you notice these signs, turn off the appliance, air out the building and call a licensed natural gas contractor immediately to inspect the equipment. If the appliance is in an area with an attic fan, kitchen fan or bathroom fan, the fan can set up vent or flue back drafts. Have a licensed contractor check your venting.
    • Ensure there is enough air indoors for appliances to vent

      Gas appliances and fireplaces use oxygen from the air to operate. When a home is sealed tightly, the oxygen inside can be used up and not replaced fast enough. The lack of air can cause incomplete burning, allowing carbon monoxide to form. Never enclose gas furnaces, water heaters or dryers in a closet or small room without providing openings for air circulation as required by local and state code.
    • Have a plumber install anti-scald devices for your shower and sink taps

      If you have an automatic dishwasher and the manufacturer recommends a Normal temperature setting for your hot water heater, ask your plumber about anti-scald devices for your shower and sink taps.
    • Lower the temperature on your water heater for safe usage:

      Natural gas water heaters are highly efficient and provide a generous amount of hot water whenever needed. For maximum efficiency and to prevent scalding accidents, lower the temperature of your water heater. Do not turn your water heater above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm or Low should be the appropriate setting on most water heater dials that do not have numbers.
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