Natural gas has been used in heating applications for centuries, dating back to 1885 when Robert Bunsen invented the Bunsen burner. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Below, we discuss how natural gas central heating works, potential safety concerns, and how ductless HVAC beats central systems in every category.
How Natural Gas Central Heating Works
Gas furnaces work by igniting natural gas, which then heats a metal component inside the appliance called a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is critical, separating the combustion of gas and its harmful byproducts from your air ducts. A blower motor moves air over the heat exchanger, warming it up and pushing it throughout your ducts to distribute throughout your home.
The entire process is regulated by a thermostat, which is a device that senses the temperature or in your home and signals the furnace to turn on and off as needed to produce the desired amount of heat.
Even though natural gas central heating is widely used across New England, these systems carry some inherent risks, including:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the primary safety concerns with gas heating systems is the potential release of carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless poisonous gas. Carbon monoxide exposure, even in small amounts, can lead to headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and confusion. When exposed to large amounts or for prolonged periods of time, death may occur. If you have a natural gas central heating system, make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly to check if they need to be replaced.
- Gas leaks. Gas leaks can occur due to issues such as damaged or corroded gas lines, faulty connections, or malfunctions within your heating system. Gas leaks can become deadly fast, either by robbing your indoor air of oxygen or by igniting suddenly when there’s a spark, like a stove being turned on or a cigarette being lit. If you suspect a gas leak in your home, you should leave immediately and contact emergency personnel right away.
- Fire hazards. The heat generated by the ignition of gas has the potential to cause a fire in systems that are old, outdated, or in poor repair. Since these fires usually start inside the furnace, it doesn’t take long for them to get out of control. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure that everyone in your house knows how to use it.
- Inadequate ventilation. Inadequate ventilation can result in the buildup of combustion byproducts inside your home, potentially causing health problems, most commonly conditions that affect the upper respiratory system like asthma and COPD. If you have natural gas heat, open your windows for a few minutes each day to get fresh air in and toxic air out – even if it’s cold out.
To sum it up, gas heating is definitely not the safest option for keeping your home warm during the winter. Electric central heating is safer than natural gas, and ductless HVAC is safer and more energy-efficient than electric.
With no combustion processes or gas involved, there’s no risk of gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, or home fires. Ductless HVAC systems boast excellent energy efficiency, using minimal electricity to generate heat and eliminating heat loss through cracks in your ductwork.
Another benefit of ductless is the versatility it offers. With traditional central heating, homeowners don’t have control over the temperature in specific rooms or areas within their house.
Ductless, on the other hand, can be used to create multiple individual climate-controlled spaces that can be set at different temperatures at different times. This provides optimal comfort and also allows the heat to be turned down or even off in rooms that aren’t in use.
At N.E.T.R., Inc., we work with homeowners to create energy-efficient, cost-effective heating solutions that fit their lifestyle. We can help you make the switch to ductless, saving you money with tax incentives and rebates available through federal and Massachusetts state benefits programs.
Contact us today to learn more about the many advantages of ductless systems or to set up a time for our team of experienced HVAC contractors to come to your home for a personalized quote. No matter what your home heating needs are, we can help. Call now at (781) 933-6387 or fill out our short online contact form and we’ll get back to you to answer your important questions.