In light of the severe snowstorm recently experienced in the Northeast, Aspen Air Duct Cleaning Services would like to provide this helpful article from our fellow professionals in Connecticut as a service to our customers, colleagues, and the general public.
Gas furnaces, carbon monoxide and rotten eggs: Homes heated by natural gas vent a byproduct, carbon monoxide, to the outside of the house. A sidewall vent blocked by drifting snow, trapping carbon monoxide in the home, could be deadly.
Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas responded to about 250 reports of gas leaks caused by clogged sidewall vents or buried meter and regulator sets during a weekend blizzard, says spokesman Michael West.
Carbon monoxide, like natural gas, is odorless. Gas companies add mercaptan to their product, creating the signature rotten-egg smell. Carbon monoxide produced by burning that fuel will not smell like rotten eggs, but it’s not odorless, either.
“The clogged sidewall vents cause incomplete combustion,” says West, “and do create odors in the basement. Your equipment might start malfunctioning and people think they might smell something and that something’s odd. We get calls of concern and it’s really not a gas leak. It’s just your vents trying to vent. That backup will create a smell.”
Don’t let it get that far. Clear the vent and the meter area, says West, with something other than a shovel or snow blower, which can cause damage. Use a broom, he says. And don’t wait.
“Some people are still waiting for their street to be plowed,” he says. “What we’re saying is if you have gas heating in your home you just need to do this. There’s no need to wait. There’s no need to think about timing. There’s no need to try to figure that out. You just want to clear a path so you can vent properly.”
The weekend blizzard, and drifting, was fiercest at night. That’s when a working carbon monoxide detector, which every home heated by natural gas should have, becomes a potential lifesaving monitor.
If you smell an unusual odor, report it to your gas company.
Source: Kevin Hunt for the Hartford Courant
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