Friday, December 10, 2010

San Diego Gas and Electric Gas Appliance Safety


By properly caring for your appliances, you'll help ensure safe and effective operations.
  • Have your gas appliances inspected annually by a licensed qualified professional or SDG&E.
  • Never store rags, mops, paper or other combustibles near any gas appliance.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Never store or use flammable products in the same room or near any gas or heat-producing appliances. Flammable products include gasoline spray paints, solvents, insecticide, adhesives, foggers, varnish, cleaning products and other pressurized containers.
  • When operating a decorative gas log, open the fireplace/chimney damper completely.
  • Never use your oven, range or out-door barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Carbon Monoxide

To help keep your gas appliances operating safely and efficiently, SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional should check your gas appliances every year. Not performing annual maintenance may result in inefficient appliance operation, and in some cases, dangerous exposure to carbon monoxide.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. In the case of home gas appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or other appliance misuse or failure.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When incomplete combustion occurs in your home’s gas appliances, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning of you and your family. The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death by asphyxiation.

Signs That May Indicate The Presence Of Carbon Monoxide

  • A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame (with the exception of decorative gas log appliances).
  • An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
  • Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.

What To Do If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Is Present In Your Home

  • If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
  • Evacuate the premises and call 911.
  • Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
  • Contact SDG&E at 1-800-411-SDGE (7343) or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
  • Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional.

How To Maintain And Use Gas Appliances To Prevent Carbon Monoxide

  • Vacuum around burner compartments, and inspect and replace furnace filters on forced-air units or central heating systems according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Make sure to properly replace the front panels of a forced-air unit or the burner compartment door of a gas wall heater.
  • Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
  • Assure that appliance venting is intact and unblocked. Have all gas appliances and venting repairs done by a licensed, qualified professional.
  • In higher altitude areas, where snow can accumulate on rooftops, ensure that gas appliance intake and exhaust vents are clear of obstructions.
  • When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
  • Never use your gas oven for space heating.
  • Gas appliance maintenance is always the homeowner’s responsibility. However, San Diego Gas & Electric will perform appliance safety checks upon request.
    • 1-800-411-SDGE (7343)

Carbon Monoxide Home Alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms may provide an extra level of safety, but they also require routine maintenance and replacement at least every three to five years to perform properly. Even with alarms in place, regular gas appliance maintenance is still required. Inspection and routine maintenance are still the best defense against accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from natural gas appliances.

Furnace Safety

Important furnace recall information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
It's important to maintain your furnace for safety and operating efficiency. Follow the tips listed below for the types of furnace in your home.

Floor Furnace

  • Avoid lint build-up by vacuuming your floor furnace regularly.
  • Keep children away from the grill, as it gets very hot.
  • Avoid fires by not placing rugs, furniture or combustible items over the grill or blocking the air flow.

Wall Furnace

  • Clean burners compartment of built-in vented wall furnaces once a month during the heating season.

Central Gravity Furnace

  • Keep furnace heat register free of lint and dust.
  • Don't store items nearby which might stop the airflow.
  • Many gas furnaces use air from the room to operate. Lint and dust carried by air, or items stored in or around the furnace can block airflow. In order to operate safely and efficiently, your gas furnace must be kept free of dust and lint build-up or other obstructions stored near the furnace, such as newspapers or cleaning equipment.
  • Most forced-air furnaces have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. The filter should be checked monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and cleaned or replaced if necessary.
  • When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Most newer forced-air furnaces have a safety switch that prevents furnace operation when the filter compartment door/panel is not in place. Some older forced-air furnaces do not have a safety switch and can be operated with the filter compartment door/panel off or not properly in place.
    • These older furnaces, when installed in a closet and operated with the panel/door not in place, will circulate carbon monoxide throughout the house.

Unvented Gas Heaters

Caution: Unvented gas heaters are unsafe.
Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code. These heaters are not approved for use in homes because of the following safety hazards.
  • Poor operation can result in an accumulation of hazardous fumes.
  • Unless a room heater has enough air from an outside vent or an open window, all of the oxygen in a room can be used up, resulting in serious illness or death.
  • The flames in these heaters may not be fully covered, which could result in injuries or fires.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose

Water Heaters

All gas appliances have a main burner flame and most also have a pilot flame. To reduce the risk of flammable vapors being ignited by these flames, follow these tips.
  • Do not install a water heater where flammable products will be stored or used.
  • Water heaters installed in garages must be elevated a minimum of 18 inches above the floor.
  • Lower water heater temperature to prevent scalding accidents. Water temperatures above 125° F can cause severe burns or even death.
  • Read your instruction manual before setting the temperature. It should contain information about temperature-limiting valves.
  • Feel the water temperature before bathing or showering.
  • Earthquakes can cause improperly secured water heaters to move or topple. To help prevent this, we recommend you strap it solidly to the wall studs.
  • Contact your local building department or permitting agency to confirm that your water heater is properly secured.

Ranges And Ovens

  • Never use your range or oven to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.
  • Keep burners and the range top clean. Accumulations of grease can create a fire hazard.

Natural Gas Fireplace Logs

To help avoid serious accidents, the damper must be blocked open on a permanent basis.

Attic Insulation Safety

Attic insulation can help lower your energy bills. Improperly installed installation, however, can create a fire hazard. Be sure to use the following tips for new and previously installed attic insulation.
  • Keep insulation away from all heat source, furnaces, water heaters, recessed light fixtures, fan motors, doorbell transformers, chimney, flues and vents.
  • Install barrier made of non-combustible material around the above heat sources.
  • Keep insulation away from all bare wires or "knob and tube" wiring.
  • Keep the air supply openings to the forced-air furnace free of any insulation.
  • Leave attic or eave vents uncovered.
  • Periodically check attic for insulation movement.
  • Contact a state-licensed insulation contractor if you have any questions about proper installation.

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