Natural Gas Furnace and Appliance Safety

Natural gas furnace and appliance safety information from Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) licenses contractors and certifies tradespeople who install and service natural gas equipment.  

Visit our BBQ Safety to learn about how to operate your BBQ safely.

Many people use natural gas to fuel:

  • Furnaces and hot water heaters.

  • Stoves.

  • Fireplaces.

  • Barbecues, grills, and patio heaters.

  • Pool heaters, and more.

Natural gas equipment can malfunction if it is broken or incorrectly installed. Malfunctions can cause a fire, an explosion, or carbon monoxide poisoning

Furnaces and water heaters

  • Create a safe area around the furnace or water heater. Keep children, pets and flammable materials away from hot surfaces. Never lean anything against your furnace or water heater. Never hang laundry or a clothesline from your equipment. 

  • Keep the floor free of dust, dirt and debris. Make sure there is enough space around the equipment for proper ventilation. Remember to leave enough space for maintenance and repair work.

  • Never keep laundry products, paint, paint thinners, gasoline, rags, drain cleaners or other chemicals in your furnace room.

  • Don’t place kitty litter near your furnace. Ammonia fumes from the litter can corrode your furnace’s heat exchanger. Odours can also circulate throughout your home.

  • The filter in your furnace helps keep the air in your home clean. Replace your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, do so every three months. 

Make sure there is proper ventilation inside and outside your house:

  • After a heavy snowstorm, inspect the air intake and exhaust pipes outside your home to make sure nothing is blocking them.

  • Make sure vents and returns are not covered by carpet or blocked by debris.

  • Make sure walls or other obstructions do not block your heating system’s air supply.

Install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home and test them monthly by pressing the Test button. 

Install a smoke detector in your furnace room, as well as on other levels of your home. Change the batteries once a year. 

Have your equipment inspected annually by a TSSA-registered contractor. 

Gas stoves

  • Install an exhaust hood or a downdraft system.

  • To keep your burners from getting clogged, regularly take them out and wash them with soapy water. If food debris or grease are blocking a burner’s holes, use a toothpick, wire brush or other sharp object to clean them. 

  • Turn the gas off if a burner does not turn on when you try to ignite it, or if the flame goes out. If you smell gas, open a window and leave the room. Wait until the gas smell dissipates before trying to re-light the burner.

  • Always make sure you turn off all the burners on the stove when you are finished cooking.

  • Use cookware that matches the flame size. 

  • Never cover the bottom cavity of the oven with aluminum foil.

  • Do not wear loose clothes while cooking. Keep flammable potholders, towels or wooden or plastic utensils away from the stove top.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

  • Never use a cooking appliance for space heating. 

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home and test them monthly by pressing the Test button. 

  • Install a smoke detector in your kitchen, as well as on other levels of your home. Change the batteries once a year.

Make sure to have your stove serviced if:

  • Burner flames are not blue.

  • The burners or pilot light produce soot.

  • If your carbon monoxide detector shows increased levels of carbon monoxide.

  • If you smell gas when the appliance is off. In this case, leave the house and call the gas company.

Gas fireplaces

  • Use a protective screen over the front of your fireplace to keep people from touching the hot glass. 

  • Have a licensed gas technician inspect your equipment every year. 

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home and test them monthly by pressing the Test button.

Gas barbecues and grills

Direct-connected, natural gas-fired equipment, such as a barbecue, must be installed by a licensed gas contractor. 


Gas pool heaters

  • Pool owners often ask landscapers and unregistered pool installation or maintenance contractors to light their natural gas-fired pool heaters. Did you know that doing so is unsafe — and illegal under TSSA Fuel Safety regulations?

  • Inadequately maintained pool heaters can develop carbon build-up and release deadly carbon monoxide gas. They can also burst into flames if they are exposed to an ignition source, causing severe injury, property damage or even death. In fact, each year, TSSA investigates pool heater fires that have resulted from improper handling, usage, and maintenance by unregistered professionals. 

  • To keep your pool heater running safely and efficiently, have it inspected at the beginning of the season by a TSSA-registered gas contractor. Remember — only professionals with the proper technical certification may install, service or relight a pilot light on your natural gas-fired pool heater.

  • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure your pool heater is properly vented. Check to make sure that vents and exhaust pipes are not broken or blocked. 

  • If the heater is located indoors, vent it outside. Install a carbon monoxide detector in the room with the heater. 

  • If your pool heater is outside, make sure that the equipment is not too close to windows. 

  • Remember, natural gas connections can develop leaks, which can lead to a fire or an explosion. If you notice a “rotten egg” smell, contact your gas supplier immediately for service.

Gas patio heaters

For tips on using a patio heater on your patio or deck or on a restaurant patio, see our Patio Heater Safety page.

Resources for finding qualified fuels professionals

Remember, you can use our Find a Fuels Contractor tool to locate a registered natural gas contractor near you. You can also learn how to choose a verified fuels professional or qualified contractor

For your own safety, do not hire uncertified gas technicians and unregistered contractors. Find out more about Fraudulent Fuels Workers and learn how to protect yourself from fuels scams