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Safeguard your home through maintenance

Updated May 16, 2011

Residents can help prevent household accidents by taking a few simple steps.

Natural gas

Make sure that appliances, furnaces and water heaters that are fueled by natural gas are functioning properly. Faulty appliances can produce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly when inhaled.

Water heaters and furnaces should be checked for proper vent pipe connections and a correctly adjusted flame, and filters should be changed regularly. Never use your furnace or water heater compartment for storage. Natural gas-fueled clothes dryers also require maintenance: keep the lint filter clean and the dryer vent clear.

Products of combustion detectors, also referred to as smoke detectors, will alert you if an appliance is leaking carbon monoxide. Other warning signs include soot around an appliance's fire box, rust on the vent pipe or a pale yellow burner flame. The pilot and burner flames should be blue.

Fireplaces

Fireplaces located on an outside wall must have an outside connection to draw air for combustion. Likewise, any glass cover you have on your fireplace should have a vent to allow air flow. Chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year. Use care when using a log-lighter -- the pipe with holes that provides gas to your fireplace. A gust of air could blow it out and allow gas to leak into your home.

Care must be taken when installing and using pot-bellied stoves -- the wood they use for fuel burns much hotter than natural gas. Don't install a pot-bellied stove before verifying the requirements for installation.

Ground fault interrupters

Just as gas can be dangerous, so can electricity. To prevent shocks, install a ground fault interrupter in any outlet that has the potential to come in contact with a grounded surface (such as plumbing fixtures, earth, etc.) Ground fault interrupters are available at any hardware store and can be installed by anyone with average knowledge about electrical equipment. If you need help, call an electrician.

Tempered glass

During typical household accidents, regular glass can shatter, leaving dangerously jagged edges. For safety, use either tempered glass or laminated safety glass on shower doors, mirrored closet doors, ovens, sliding glass and entry doors, and window panes adjacent to the outdoors.

Finally, remember to contact the City before installing a major appliance, altering your home's exterior or making any changes to your home's gas, electrical, plumbing or heating system. For more information, call the Building and Safety Department at (562) 916-1209.

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