What Does It Mean If Your Gas Furnace Smells Like Sulfur?

A sulfur smell coming from your furnace can be disturbing, but if you know what it means and what to about it, you can keep yourself and members of your household safe. This FAQ addresses the different scenarios under which you might smell sulfur around your furnace.

What does it mean if your gas furnace smells like sulfur?

If your gas furnace smells like sulfur, this is an indication that your gas furnace has a leak. The sulfur smell is added to the gas as a safety precaution so that homeowners and businesses will know when gas is leaking on their premises.

How dangerous is a furnace gas leak?

A furnace gas leak can be quite dangerous, depending on its severity. If the smell of gas is strong enough to be detected throughout your house, this is an indication of a dangerous, serious leak. If the smell of gas is faint and only detectable in the immediate vicinity of the furnace itself, this may be an indication that your pilot light has been extinguished. This is a much less dangerous problem. Your response to the gas leak will depend on the strength of the smell.

What should you do if the gas smell can be detected throughout the house?

If you can smell gas throughout the house, leave your home immediately and have other members of your household do the same. Leave the door open as you go. Once you've evacuated, use a cell phone to call your gas company. They will very likely address your problem immediately to prevent a devastating explosion or fire. Do not go back in the house until you've confirmed that the gas leak is extinguished and your home is safe.

Don't use your furnace until the cause of the leak has been discovered and repaired. This may require you to call a heating repair professional, but you should wait for your gas company to confirm that the problem is the furnace and not the gas pipes.

What should you do if the gas smell is faint and the pilot light is out?

If the pilot light has been extinguished on your gas furnace, you can fix this problem by re-igniting the pilot light. Each furnace is different, so you'll need to follow the instructions posted on the furnace to do this. If you can't find instructions for relighting your pilot light, take a look at your furnace's owner's manual.

What should you do if the gas smell is faint but the pilot light is burning?

If the pilot light is burning but the gas smell is not very strong, this could be an indication of a very small leak. Use the gas shutoff valve on your furnace to turn off the gas. You'll be able to tell that the gas has been turned off when the pilot light is extinguished. When this is done, call for heating repair.

For more information, talk to your HVAC heating repair professional. Companies like Buchner Bernie Inc may be able to help meet your needs in this area.