Gas flames

During chilly weather, many of our customers rely on their gas furnaces to stay warm at home. So it’s important to keep your furnace and other appliances working safely and efficiently.

Natural gas is a safe, clean and efficient fuel source. An improperly burning gas appliance can cause hazards, though, if it’s used incorrectly or poorly maintained.

“Now that winter is kicking in, a lot of customers might ignore simple safety precautions,” said Kevin Thomas, Safety Specialist for UniSource Energy Services. “It’s important that you take care of your appliances.”

Gas furnace: Periodically check the filter in your furnace, especially before the temperature starts to dip. An annual furnace tune-up by a qualified technician also is recommended.

“Filters in a furnace need to be checked and replaced as needed to ensure good air flow and for the appliance to work efficiently. A furnace working with a dirty filter is like breathing with a mask over your face,” Thomas said. “A clean filter also can extend the life of the furnace.”

Carbon monoxide detector: Any home or business that uses natural gas should install a carbon monoxide detector. If a problem with the heating system occurs, a  detector can alert you in time to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Batteries in the detector usually need to be replaced once per a year, but follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Thomas suggests an easy way to remember:  Pick a date like New Year’s Day or a birthday to regularly replace the batteries.

Water heater: Water heated to 140 degrees or higher can cause severe burns within a few seconds of exposure.

Set your water heater around 120 degrees or below to prevent severe, accidental burns. Make sure to read and follow the instruction manual before setting the water temperature on a gas water heater.

Gas fireplace: Before lighting the pilot on a gas fireplace, make sure the vent is clear and free from debris. A blocked vent can cause potential hazards. Sparks could ignite debris or smoke could drift into the house.

Storage: Areas adjacent to the furnace and hot water heater should be kept free from debris and other combustible products.

Flammable products should never be stored near gas-burning appliances. Those products include paint, gasoline, solvents, adhesives, paper products and clothing.  Also, the top of gas-burning appliances should be kept free from debris.

If you suspect leaking gas, leave the area immediately, then call both 911 and UES at 877-837-4968; select the emergency option on our automated answering system.

In response to such a call, UES gas employees will check the house for a natural gas leak. If they find a problem with a gas appliance, they’ll turn it off and notify you that repairs are needed. A red tag will be placed on it as a warning to prevent use.

“We want our customers to be safe,” Thomas said. “These are simple steps to take and stay safe throughout the year.”

This content was last updated on the date shown above. More recent information might be available elsewhere on