Natural gas and propane are odorless. The pungent smell is from a chemical, mercaptan, added to both to alert you to a gas leak. This is vital information if you intend to service your own gas heater.

We at Howard Air certainly understand the instinct to save some money, but if you have any doubts about your ability to work on your home’s gas heater, contact us and we can send out a trained technician. 

Service Your Gas Heater Yourself?

Many tasks on a gas-fired furnace are beyond the skills of the average homeowner. We have assembled a brief outline of some things you can do – safely – to keep your gas heater running efficiently and reliably, but remember Howard Air’s watchwords: safety first. Turn off your gas heater and turn off the gas before attempting any of these tasks!

Turn off power to your furnace not only at the furnace, but at the circuit breaker panel, too. Find the gas line and, making sure you know which way to turn the valve, turn it from “On” to “Off.”

If you do smell mercaptan (similar to rotten eggs), clear the area, remove pets, open doors and windows and contact either your gas company or trusted HVAC contractor. 

Basic Gas Heater Service Tasks

By regularly taking car of these maintenance tasks, your heating unit should live up to its life expectancy. If not, you may be buying a new furnace before you know it.

Howard Air - How to Service a Gas Heater: Clean Air Filter
1. Clean or replace your filter

Some filters are permanent, which means you should slide them out, wash them off, and replace them; others are disposable and should only be replaced with an exact match for size and thickness.


Howard Air - How to Service a Gas Heater: Vacuum Furnace Room
2. Vacuum furnace room

Keeping the furnace room clean will keep your furnace clean.


Howard Air - How to Service a Gas Heater: Check Thermostat
3. Check thermostat settings

Verify and adjust settings on your programmable thermostat; if battery powered, replace the batteries twice a year, and consider replacing an older unit with a modern Wi-Fi thermostat to save money.


Howard Air - How to Service a Gas Heater: Clean Blower
4. Clean blower area

Immediately behind the air filter in your gas heater is the blower, which moves warm air through your home; use a damp cloth to clean the blower, pulleys, belts and housing to minimize particulate and dust.


Howard Air - How to Service a Gas Heater: Inspect Ductwork
5. Inspect ductwork

For accessible parts of your home’s ducts, check for loose seams and use mastic (not duct tape) to repair them. If you can get a vacuum hose inside your ducts, vacuum them or consider having professional duct cleaning done to improve indoor air quality.


Howard Air

Contact Howard Air today at (623) 201-5153 to learn more about servicing your gas heater. We can schedule a service call or advise you on solving problems you are experiencing.

See also: What Size Furnace do I Need for My Home?