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.
In addition, 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. Do not use or store flammable products, such as those mentioned above, in the same room or area where a water heater or any other gas appliance is installed.
Keep your gas appliance owner’s manuals available and refer 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.
Below are some additional tips on how to safely and efficiently use your appliances:
- 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.
- Clean or replace air filters every month during the heating and cooling seasons and every three months during the rest of the year. Clean air filters help your system operate properly and reduce your energy bills.
- Range-top burners may not light when turned on, or may go out when a pot boils over. In both cases, gas is still being released. Turn the burner off and wait about five minutes to let gas concentrations drop before attempting to relight the burner.
- Sometimes, part of a burner does not light at all or the flames look ragged and yellow. This usually means that the burner ports are clogged. Turn off the gas and clean out the tiny holes of the burner with an open paper clip or metal wire. Do not use a toothpick, which may break off in the burner.
- When cooking, burner flames should not be allowed to rise up around the outside of a pan. Adjust the flame to match the size of the pan.
- Ovens must be able to circulate air inside when they are operating. Do not cover the holes in the bottom of the oven with foil. Always leave an inch of space between pans and oven walls.
- Range-top burners or ovens should never be used for home-heating purposes, even during a winter emergency. Leaving burner flames on and unattended is a fire hazard and oven burners operating continuously can use up indoor oxygen and lead to the production of deadly carbon monoxide.
- Dryer exhaust goes through a flexible metallic vent pipe or rigid vent pipe to the outdoors. Manufacturers do not recommend flexible vinyl hoses. Check venting periodically to remove lint and dust. Lint in the vent pipe can cause a fire. If there are cracks or holes in the vent pipe, it needs to be replaced. Make sure the outside exhaust hood is in place and the flapper inside of it moves freely.
- Items cleaned with a spot remover or similar product give off flammable vapors. These items should never be dried in a gas dryer; air-dry them instead.
- 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.
- 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.
- When installing gas logs or inserts in a conventional wood-burning fireplace, pay special attention to the manufacturer’s venting specifications. Many log sets need a fully open chimney damper when burning and some require direct venting to the outside. Please note that gas logs are not designed for cooking.
- Gas grills must be lit with the top open. A natural gas grill intended for outdoor use should never be used indoors. All outdoor grills can produce deadly carbon monoxide and are designed to vent in the open air.
- 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.
- Bird and animal nests, leaves or loose tiles inside your chimney can block the venting of combustion products produced by gas appliances, posing a CO or fire hazard. Have your chimney checked by a licensed contractor annually during your heating system inspection.
Many home accidents occur in the kitchen.
Here are some ways to avoid mishaps:
- Keep the range clean and wipe up spills promptly. Do not store fats and oils on or over the range.
- Keep paper, aerosol cans and fabrics – such as blowing curtains, loose or long sleeves – away from burners.
- Do not cover broiler pan holes with foil; fats can collect and may ignite.
- Remember to check cooking progress often to avoid pots bubbling over and potentially putting out the burner flame. With the burner on, natural gas will escape even if the burner is not lit.