3 Ways to Prevent Your Furnace from Leaking Carbon Monoxide
Does your furnace pose a health and safety risk to your home? As the winter months drag on, it’s essential to make sure that your heating system is functioning appropriately. Particularly with gas furnaces, you can never be too careful with monitoring their daily performance. Homeowners have a right to be concerned about the quality of their air, as well as the overall safety of their family.
Carbon monoxide is the primary concern for homeowners with gas furnaces. As a natural part of the mechanisms of a furnace, carbon monoxide is produced. This dangerous chemical should remain contained inside of the heat exchanger, never entering into the indoor air of your home. The carbon monoxide should only exit the furnace through the flue pipe which ultimately pumps it outdoors.
However, small damages to the inside of the furnace could lead to leaks. Even a tiny crack in the right part of the furnace could mean major problems for your home. Carbon monoxide leaks almost always comes from cracked heat exchangers. These pieces are typically responsible for pumping the poisonous gas into the outdoor air, but a crack can render them ineffective.
The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should be taken extremely seriously. If you feel that you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, remove yourself from the home immediately and get professional help. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are the most common symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Flu-like symptoms
What can you do to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from your furnace? Follow a few of these simple steps to reduce the risk of long-term damage to your family’s health and safety.
Clean the furnace filters
Replacing the furnace filters can play a big role in the development of excess carbon monoxide within your unit. Over time, the filters become clogged with dirt and debris that are brought into the furnace. A clogged air filter makes it difficult for the furnace to bring in fresh air the way it’s designed to do. When fresh air is backed up and not allowed into the system freely, there can be a build-up of carbon monoxide within the unit.
Pay attention to how frequently you change your furnace filters, and make sure it aligns with the manufacturer’s recommendations. This may need to occur every thirty to ninety days, depending on the type of filter you have. Changing the air filter requires only a few minutes of your time, but it can make a huge difference for your furnace.
When the air can flow freely, your furnace has a lighter workload and is less likely to produce a carbon monoxide leak. In addition to ensuring the safety of your family, changing the air filter can also lower your gas bill each month.
If you have a difficult time remembering to change the air filter of your unit, you may want to consider setting an alarm on your smartphone. Since the air filter tends to be out sight, an alarm keeps it from being out of mind as well.
Have your furnace professionally maintained and inspected annually
Unfortunately, changing your air filter isn’t necessarily going to prevent a carbon monoxide leak. Cracks inside the heat exchanger are what ultimately lead to the gas being leaked into the rest of your home. A professional can inspect the entire unit annually for cracks, leaks, or other damaged pieces that may lead to such a deadly outflow.
Annual inspections allow you to catch any potential issues quickly. However, they can also spot installation errors that may cause a problem. If you hired your second cousin who is usually pretty handy to install your gas furnace, he may not have hooked up all of the flue lines correctly. One mistake during the installation process could have deadly results for your family.
Classic Air Conditioning and Heating can also perform a thorough cleaning on your unit during this maintenance. When the air flows more freely and the furnace is actually clean, there’s less likelihood for long-term damage and carbon monoxide leaks.
Make sure to contact a local HVAC company for annual maintenance on your unit. They can catch problems early, alert you to any significant dangers or repairs that are on the horizon, and help your unit to run more efficiently. A more efficient furnace is safer for your family and can help to save you money on heating costs each month.
Install a carbon monoxide detector
One of the best ways to determine if you are being exposed to carbon monoxide is to install a detector. It’s impossible to know whether you are being exposed to this chemical without an alert system. Carbon monoxide is both colorless and odorless, making it a silent killer in many homes each year.
Carbon monoxide detectors are subtle and simple to install on your own. Some smoke alarms may even have carbon monoxide detectors built into their systems. If your home doesn’t come equipped with one of these, you can also purchase detectors that plug into a regular wall outlet.
Homeowners should be cautioned that these detectors may only alert you to extremely high levels of carbon monoxide. A very small amount of the chemical may not show up on the readings but can be just as dangerous over a long period of time.
The other key to using carbon monoxide detectors effectively is to install them in the proper locations. You will likely need more than one to give your home the proper coverage, including a unit on each level of the home and near every bedroom. They should each be roughly five feet off the floor to detect carbon monoxide levels sooner.
Keep them away from fuel-burning appliances and places where humidity is common. Placing your carbon monoxide detector directly in the way of fans or air registers is also a poor choice.
Ultimately, you can take several simple steps to protect your home and family from the lethal dangers of carbon monoxide. Even though you may not recognize when a leak is happening, your body will respond to the gas in the air accordingly. An ounce of prevention is essential for ensuring the overall well-being of your family.
If you have any concerns about the performance of your gas furnace, don’t hesitate to reach out to an HVAC technician today. The sooner you reach out, the sooner the problem can be solved without disastrous consequences.