Are Gas Furnaces Safe?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), households’ heating equipment choices are varied and diverse, but gas furnaces are the most common main space heating equipment used in every climate region (except the hot-humid region of the Southeast). In fact, around 47% still mostly rely on gas heating!

Despite being so common, Big Mountain Heating & Air Conditioning understands that gas furnaces still have a tendency to make people nervous. Keep reading to learn more about the safety aspects of a gas furnace!

What About Carbon Monoxide?

What is CO?

The biggest risk that comes with a gas furnace is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that forms when fossil fuel burns incompletely due to insufficient oxygen. It’s colorless, odorless and lighter than air, so it can spread throughout your home quickly. 

Since gas furnaces burn fuel to heat your home, naturally, a small amount of carbon monoxide will be produced within the heat exchanger of your unit. If your unit is working properly, the gas will be vented out of your home through its flue pipe. Over time, however, your furnace can experience wear and tear, which can cause gas leaks.


The best way to prevent CO leaks or other damages to your furnace is by simply scheduling regular furnace maintenance with Big Mountain Heating. Our technicians will perform a full-system inspection, cleaning, as well as check whether your heating system was properly installed. With proper maintenance, chances for gas leaks are relatively low.

At times, however, a heater can still malfunction due to other factors such as a dirty furnace filter. One way to prepare ahead of time for any potential gas leaks is by installing carbon monoxide detectors. CO detectors will immediately warn you of high levels of carbon monoxide if a gas leak ever occurs. 

Signs of CO Poisoning 

Your gas furnace was made with safety in mind. Gas leaks are not very common, but it’s important to recognize the signs of CO poisoning just in case. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Gas vs Electric Furnaces?

While gas furnaces are the most common heating equipment, electric furnaces are steadily gaining popularity. In fact, the EIA reports that around 30 percent of US households have made the switch to more modern, electric models. 

When it comes to gas versus electric furnaces, how do they differ in terms of safety?

Electrical furnaces are considered generally safer than gas furnaces as they don’t pose the risk of gas leaks, but they don’t come without risks of their own. If your electrical furnace had a fault installation, it can short-circuit, thereby causing a fire. Just like with gas furnaces, however, proper installation and annual maintenance will reduce the risk of these issues from happening.

Call the Professionals 

All heating systems were built to run safely, but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on your annual maintenance! We depend on our HVAC system year round, which means it will require tune-ups. Contact Big Mountain Heating & Air Conditioning to make sure your system is prepared for the coming winter months!