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Smells like gas when my furnace is not running - Hello, I have a gas furnace furnace in my house for home heating. It is located in the attic. My wife and I were in the attic reorganizing some things and the furnace was off. On occasion I got a whiff of gas. I know natural gas is odorless but they add an odorant to the gas so you can smell it. It is a rotten egg smell and that is what I smelled in our attic. Can you please advise us on what to do? Thanks!! And I enjoy reading your site to help me understand my HVAC system. Good Info!!!!

Smells like gas when my furnace is not runningSmells like Gas when my Furnace is not Running

The smell of natural gas or propane gas around you gas furnace is not good. It likely means you have a gas leak. It could also mean you have a dead rodent in the attic somewhere. So before you call for HVAC service look around and make sure you don’t have a dead rodent in the attic somewhere. Anything that has a rotten smell can be the problem. To be 100% safe, call your gas company and ask them to check for you. Some will offer this service free of charge but others will charge you for a service call. Make sure to check before you ask for the service. Sometimes, you can also call the non-emergency number for the fire department and they may send someone to check for you.

Explosive Gas Detectors - Smells like Gas when my Furnace is not Running

There are detectors that can detect explosive gas. Your gas company uses these to randomly check the neighborhood including as lines outside your home. I have responded to service calls where the gas company red tagged a gas meter. They did this because they randomly checked the gas line outside your home and detected a leak from the gas meter to where the gas pipe goes inside the home. The exposed piping was either rusted through or damaged in some way.

Once the repair is done a call is made to the gas company. They respond by rechecking the gas line for a leak(s). If no leak is found they unlock the meter and restore gas service. It kind of sucks because you have to wait for the water heater to heat the water again and the furnace to reheat the house but its the safest way to handle the situation. Making the repair quickly and efficiently is important to get restored gas service. For that reason, make sure you call a reliable company to make the repair.

gas meter locked

A gas line is locked out.

Properties of Natural Gas and Propane and the Danger

If you have a leak inside your home it is important to remember the properties of the specific combustible gas your system uses. If you have a large tank outside you have propane. If you have a meter with associated piping outside then you likely have natural gas. The properties of the gases are different. And here’s how it will affect you: Propane is heavier than air and will will settle in low places. Natural gas is lighter than air and will settle in higher places and possibly dissipate through natural venting especially in an attic.

Make sure you don’t smoke and limit turning on electrical devices including lighting. Use a flashlight. If the odor is really heavy immediately leave and make a call to your fire department. Make sure to evacuate other people and pets inside the structure. You could also turn off the gas service at the meter if you have natural gas. You will need a large adjustable wrench for this purpose. For propane service you turn the gas off as the tank. If you are not comfortable doing this ask a neighbor or wait for the fire department.

Conclusion | Smells like Gas when my Furnace is not Running

Make sure to take this situation seriously and get the problem resolved. Piping should be installed in such a way as to avoid damage from most situations that can occur. Despite that, problems do occur. It is important to have the piping inspected from from to time and preventive maintenance done to take care of the piping system. Black iron piping can be painted to prevent corrosion and rust. Taking common sense precautions and regular inspection and maintenance can prevent problems like this from concurring in the future. Have a safe heating season!!!

External Resources:

Wikipedia

High Performance HVAC Heating and Cooling

Smells like gas when my furnace is not running


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