Natural Gas Safety FAQ's

What does Natural Gas smell like? 

What should I do if I smell natural gas in my home? 

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Should I have a carbon monoxide alarm installed?

What should I do if my carbon monoxide alarm sounds?

Why does the pilot light on my furnace keep going out? 

How often should I have my chimney cleaned? 

How often should I have my gas furnace serviced?

Who do I call to find the locations of gas lines on my property?



Q: What does Natural Gas smell like?

A: Natural gas is odourless, so trace amounts of a chemical called mercaptan are added before we put it into our distribution pipes. Mercaptan has a distinctive 'rotten egg' odour. In case of a leak, we want you to be able to detect and identify it. 

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Q: What should I do if I smell natural gas in my home?

A: Call Kingston Utilities Emergency Services Department immediately. Open the doors and windows to let fresh air into your house. 

If the smell is strong or is accompanied by a "hissing" noise get everyone out of your home, leaving the windows and doors open to allow air to enter. Don't use your phone or cell phone. Call Kingston Utilities from a neighbour's home or pay phone. Do not turn any lights or appliances on or off. Don't smoke or use lighters and matches. 

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Q: What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

A: Carbon monoxide (CO) can cause flu-like symptoms without a fever, including: headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness or fatigue, burning eyes, confusion and loss of coordination. 

If anyone in your home is experiencing any of the symptoms described above, leave the house immediately and get medical help. Call 911 or your local fire department. 

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Q: Should I have a carbon monoxide alarm installed?

A: You should have a least one carbon monoxide alarm and it should be operating in the sleeping quarters of your home. 

Carbon monoxide alarms are a useful second line of defence to warn you of the presence of CO - but they're not a substitute for annual inspections and servicing of your fuel-burning equipment and exhaust venting systems. 

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Q: What should I do if my carbon monoxide alarm sounds?

A: Open windows and doors to ventilate your home and then evaluate the situation as follows: 

  • Check to see if anyone in your household has the symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide. If so, have occupants leave your home immediately and seek medical help. Call 911 or your local fire department if you need emergency assistance.
  • If no one is experiencing symptoms of CO exposure, check the manufacturer's instructions for maintaining and resetting the CO alarm. Some alarms emit an alarm when the battery is weak or if the unit needs airing out.
  • Check to see if other causes may have triggered the alarm: for example, humidity or chemical fumes of products used near the alarm, exhaust from a gasoline-powered engine in an attached garage or fumes from a wood-burning fireplace.
  • If you cannot determine the cause and the alarm continues to sound, leave windows and doors open and call a qualified heating contractor to check your natural gas equipment.

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Q: Why does the pilot light on my furnace keep going out?

A: Your house may have inadequate ventilation. Some other signs that your home may have inadequate ventilation include: 

  • stale and stuffy air
  • a sharp smell when your heating equipment turns on
  • warm air comes back down the chimney/flue when the furnace is on

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Q: How often should I have my chimney cleaned?

A: It's important to have your chimney cleaned and/or inspected at least once a year. If you add a natural gas appliance to your home or a chimney fire has occurred, you should have it inspected. 

To have your chimney inspected or cleaned, contact a qualified heating contractor. 

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Q:How often should I have my gas furnace serviced?

A: It is recommended that you have your furnace serviced annually by a licensed gas technician or heating contractor. Between professional check-ups you can do some basic maintenance yourself. Just follow these checklists: 

  • Check the furnace filter and clean or replace it when it looks dirty. A dirty filter reduces heating efficiency.
  • Inspect the fan or blower and wipe away any dust. If the motor has a fan belt that looks worn, have it replaced.
  • Many fan motors are sealed and do not require oiling by hand. Check the manufacturer's instructions.
  • A high-efficiency furnace may require other maintenance. Check the manufacturer's instructions or ask the heating contractor who installed the furnace.
  • Vacuum loose dust from the heating registers and cold air returns. Check that the registers and returns are not blocked by drapes, rugs, furniture or other items.

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Q: Who do I call to find the locations of gas and power lines on my property?

A: Call Utilities Kingston before you do any digging on your property. 

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