Home explosion increases calls for furnace check-ups

Homeowners are having their furnaces checked for leaks after Saturday's explosion.

Many homeowners aren't waiting to find out if a gas leak caused the explosion in a south side neighborhood. They are making urgent calls to make sure their homes and heaters are safe.

"We've had quite a few calls today," said Ed Kittle of Howald Heating and Air Conditioning in Broad Ripple.

The calls are coming from homeowners wanting their furnace systems checked.

"It does make you think twice," said homeowner Kelly Wheat, "that maybe you shouldn't wait 'til it starts to fail."

Wheat isn't waiting. Her aging gas furnace gets an annual inspection. There was no odor of natural gas in her basement.

"No, and I would smell it," Wheat said.

The distinctive smell is an odor the gas company adds to help homeowners detect a leak.

"That sulfur, that rotten egg smell, don't just take it for granted, but get out," said Larry Howald with Howald Heating and Air Conditioning.

If you smell something like that in the house, don't turn on the lights or use your cell phone. Those could spark a blast. Instead, get out of the house and call 911 or the gas company.

"We don't see a lot of gas leaks. For one, gas, really, is a very safe product to heat your home," Kittle said.

But have your furnace checked every year. Technicians will look at all the joints in the metal gas line coming into your house and maybe even use a gas sensor to look for any leaks.

The gas shutoff is a small red valve on the pipe near the furnace. But in a leak, don't mess with that, get out of the house.

Before a technician comes to check your system, there's something you can do in your own basement. Spray or dab a little bit of soapy water onto the gas pipe joints. If it bubbles, you've got a leak.

Don't mess with it, again, call the gas company or 911.