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While major appliances make our lives much easier, they also pose significant risks if not maintained properly. Appliance safety is a matter of both keeping your appliances in good working order and using them as they were intended, as well. The average homeowner has several thousand dollars invested in major appliances; to protect your investment and ensure many years of reliable service out of each, it's important to properly maintain your appliances.

Appliance Safety Tips

Natural gas range Never use natural gas ranges for heating. Using a range as a source of heat can cause dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) to build up in your home or building. If you notice a pilot flame suddenly burning much higher than normal, it might be a surge in gas pressure. Is your flame blue? On a natural gas appliance, the color of the flame is a good indicator of incomplete combustion. The flame should always burn blue, not orange or yellow. If the flame is not blue, it may be a sign that the appliance needs adjusting or cleaning. Appliances should always be checked and adjusted by a qualified service technician. Natural gas fireplace logs are an exception to the blue flame rule. Most of these products are designed to be operated with a yellow or orange flame in order to achieve a more realistic appearance.Any time they are used, the damper in the fireplace should be open. Water heater Set your water heater temperature to 120F (low or warm) to help prevent accidental burns. Water heaters set at 140F or higher pose a potential danger, especially to children and the elderly. It takes just five seconds to receive a third-degree burn from 140F water. See the instruction manual before setting the temperature on the water heater. You should always feel the water before bathing or showering. Temperature limiting valves are available. Check your owner's manual for information. Natural gas grill Never use your natural gas grill inside a garage, in an enclosed porch or directly under low eaves or overhangs. Also, keep your grill at a safe distance fromwood siding, deck railings and other surfaces that could ignite. Natural gas dryer Check your clothes dryer's exhaust duct, vent and hood cover (outside the house) periodically, removing any lint or obstruction. Heating system Have a qualified technician check your heating system annually. Technicians check for proper combustion, carbon monoxide levels and flue gas temperature, burners and the heat exchanger to ensure proper operation. Flexible Natural GasConnectors Natural gas connectors are corrugated metal tubes that connect a homes or business's natural gas appliances to a fuel source. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns natural gas users that older brass, uncoated appliance connectors can come apart, causing fires and explosions resulting in deaths and injuries. Defective connectors are most often found on naturalgas ranges, ovens and clothes dryers (sometimes on water heaters and furnaces) that are 20 years old or older. If you suspect you may have an uncoated, brass connector, follow these simple steps:

  1. NEVER move the appliance or disturb the connector. This could cause the connector to break, which could cause a fire or explosion.
  2. Schedule a qualified Minnesota plumber or heating contractor to inspect the connector. NEVER try to do this yourself.
  3. If necessary, ask the qualified MN plumber to replace the old connector with a new model certified by the American Gas Association. Newer connectors are made of stainless steel or plastic-coated metal.
  4. Replace all uncoated brass connector immediately.

Certain Older Gas Connectors May Be Dangerous Below are images of both Gas Flexible Connectors that are safe, and Gas Flexible Connectors that could pose a danger.

Keep Flammables Away From Appliances

Never use or store flammable products such as gasoline, solvents or adhesives near a water heater or any other natural gas or electric appliance because vapors from flammable liquids can ignite. Manufacturers have adopted a standard to produce 30- to 50-gallon water heaters with technology that helps prevent flammable liquids from igniting. Since older water heaters are not equipped with this resistant technology,they are more susceptible to flammable vapors.In the right conditions, flammable vapors can travel undetected along the floor aided by air vents. To minimize the risk of accidents, elevate the water heater at least eighteen inches above the floor. Keep all flammable productsintightly closed, approved containers,stored far away from all appliances and out of the reach of children. To find out more,visit the American Gas Association.

A Red Tag Means Danger

If an appliance repair service determines that your gas furnace or other gas appliances are not operating safely, they will be turned off and marked with a red tag. The tag serves as a warning that an appliance is unsafe and could cause injury, property damage or even death. For your safety, please don't use the appliance until you have it repaired by a qualified contractor. ONLY a licensed plumber is permitted to work on gas lines/gas leaks. We have all heard stories of houses exploding and or catching on fire. If you think you have a gas leak call the utility company to shut off the gas and then call a licensed Minnesota Plumber immediately to have the lines tested.