Gas Appliance Venting Faulty

Problem: Inadequate air supply within home.

Background: Gas appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, and gas logs, must be connected to a flue vented to the outdoors and have an adequate fresh-air supply. If vents, flues, or chimneys are not kept clean and in good repair, toxic carbon monoxide can accumulate. Signs that indicate a gas appliance has an inadequate air supply may include indoor condensation, a yellow or wavering flame, soot in your home, a gas smell, over heating, sick houseplants, or a pilot light that keeps going out.

What to do: Turn off the appliance and call a technician if you have any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include: an aching head, smarting eyes, ringing ears, nausea, weariness, or frequent yawning. If you have weatherized your home with caulk and weather stripping, and have closed off the normal air flow through walls, at tics, windows, and doors, you may need a fresh-air intake duct to pro vide sufficient oxygen for your furnace. A heating contractor can in stall one for you.

Special advice: Make sure flues and chimneys are kept clear of debris such as nests, branches, or ivy. Avoid blocking air vents, valves, or controls if you add insulation around the water heater. Don’t cover the top of the heater or the space between the floor and heater.

Helpful hint: To make sure your home is safe, hire a qualified heating contractor to inspect and tune up your gas furnace and water heater each year and check any automatic vent dampers in use.

Appliance on Fire

Problem Flames or smoke are coming from appliance.

Background: If an appliance doesn’t work correctly, or if it gives even the slightest shock, disconnect it and get it repaired. Insulation makes appliance cords safe. Replace cords that are worn, broken, or brittle from age or overheating because they can cause a dangerous short circuit and fire. Avoid connecting several appliances through an extension cord, or using octopus-type (multiple outlet) plugs. Run cords in safe, out-of-the-way places.

What to do: If you discover a fire in any appliance, unplug it if possible, or turn off the power at the appliance’s circuit breaker. Call the fire department and explain that there is an electrical fire, and alert anyone else in the home. Don’t put water on the flame; use a fire extinguisher recommended for electrical fires (see below).

Special advice: Only fire extinguishers rated for class C fires and marked with the letter “C” should be used in and around live electrical equipment such as appliances, radios, and TV sets. (Class A fires are those fueled by wood, fabric, paper, rubber, and most plastics; class B fires are fueled by flammable liquids such as oil, gasoline, paint, or grease.) Two kinds of dry-chemical extinguishers are offered for home use: one rated “Multipurpose A:B:C,” which uses monoammonium phosphate against all three classes of fires, and another which uses sodium bicarbonate against class B and class C fires.

Helpful hint: Good locations for fire extinguishers include: the corridor near the door of a bedroom; the end wall cabinet next to a kitchen door; in the hall near the living room; by the tool rack near a shop exit; and the wall close to the doors of either a garage or boat house.