Furnace Gas Leak Suspected In Suburban Chicago Home Explosion, Fire

Furnace Gas Leak Suspected In Suburban Chicago Home Explosion, Fire

Before turning on your furnace for the first time as temperatures drop this fall, make sure you inspect the furnace for any problems.

In northwest suburban Chicago this week, a natural gas leak, possibly from the furnace, was believed to be the cause of a large home explosion and fire that caused an estimated $150,000 in fire damages.

Though the official cause of the Elgin, Illinois, home explosion Monday is still under investigation, reports state the homeowner told firefighters he had turned on the home’s furnace for the first time this year that evening.

According to the Elgin Fire Department, firefighters contained the fire within 10 minutes, but not before the explosion and fire seriously injured one man and collapsed two of the home’s outside walls.

In a statement, Elgin fire officials reminded homeowners of the importance of routine maintenance to gas furnaces and hot water heaters.

What to do in a gas leak

Knowing the proper procedures in a natural gas leak can help homeowners avoid serious injury and devastating damages caused by potential explosions and fires. Follow these five steps if you suspect a gas leak in your home:

  1. Leave the home immediately — If you detect a natural gas leak, evacuate the area. Then, call your utility company and ask for an inspector to come.
  2. Don’t operate electrical devices — Turning on electrical devices like light switches, garage door openers or other household electronics can cause a spark, which can ignite leaking gas.
  3. Don’t start your car — Most vehicle engines are started with a spark. Starting your car could ignite leaked gas.
  4. Don’t attempt to shut off the gas supply or appliances — It’s possible to create a spark even when shutting off a supply line or appliance.
  5. Don’t attempt a do-it-yourself repair — Searching for the source of a gas leak in your home will put you in harm’s way should an explosion occur or fire erupt. Leave the home, and call a professional.

For leaking pipes, call an experienced plumber who offers gas supply pipe services. For appliance leaks, call a professional appliance repair specialist. For heating equipment leaks, call a licensed HVAC contractor.

RELATED: Angie’s List guide to natural gas leaks

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