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Is My Furnace Leaking Carbon Monoxide in My Home?

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Welcome to winter! Chilly, cold, and even snowy days. These days call for heat … even if you turn it on to work just slightly to get the “chill” out of your home. During this season, your furnace will be working hard and some days even working overtime. Do you ever worry if your furnace is working safely in your home all the time?

If you are anything like most homeowners we service, your furnace runs on natural gas. It happens that a heating system may have a dual fuel system and switch over to use an electric heat package during times when the weather is cold but not too cold. But when very cold temperatures arrive and your heating system kicks on, you are burning gas.

Have you ever thought about just exactly how your furnace is working?  Or the safety measures that need to be in place for it to operate properly and safely?  Think about it. Furnaces are burning gas.  Since it is burning gas, your furnace has flames. It is also producing a combustible material – natural gas.  There are also fumes from the combustion process, and this is where most problems occur.  This is where carbon monoxide (CO) shows its true self.

You Want To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Leaking Into Your Home!

It is very important to keep in mind that carbon monoxide is bad and scary stuff!

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 430 people die in the U.S. from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with around 50,000 people visiting the emergency department. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, so it often may go unnoticed. Those flu-like symptoms could be down to carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure that you explore all avenues.

Even in small amounts, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness and nausea, vomiting, and headaches. In larger amounts, it can cause you to become unconscious or even lead to death.

Those flu-like symptoms could be the first signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure you are prepared.

A lot of homeowners have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes for this reason. A carbon monoxide detector alerts the homeowner when there is a dangerously high carbon monoxide level found in your home. (If you do not have a CO detector, we highly recommend researching a few options and purchasing one for your home for an added safety measure).

Believe it or not, your furnace can be a source of a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Remember when we talked about how your furnace is burning gas and releasing combustion fumes as part of its normal way to work? Well, the great news is that your furnace has been designed to vent these gases out of the HVAC system so that they never even enter your living space!  This is how your furnace is designed and supposed to work; however, that is not always the case.

Conditions That Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Leaks Into Your Home

If you want to prevent carbon monoxide leaks in your home, keep an eye on these signs.

  • Cracked or corroded heat exchanger. We recommend heating maintenance and tune-ups annually for our customers.  Our technicians are specially trained to use a special camera to view your heat exchanger and look for even the smallest cracks or signs of corrosion.
  • Poor installation. If someone failed to install your furnace properly, there could be insufficient airflow or venting issues.  This could lead to premature heat exchanger failure.
  • Exhaust system set up to vent through an old chimney. We check out the integrity of your chimney liner before we install a new furnace. If the chimney liner is corroded or too old to hold up to its specifications, it could cause carbon monoxide to leak back into the home.
  • Negative air pressure that draws gases out of the furnace. This occurs when the furnace is not set up to operate by manufacturer specifications, and the pressure inside your home is lower than the pressure outside of your
  • Lack of sufficient combustion air. This happens when the air supply is poor, and the gas cannot combust properly, leading to high CO leaks in your home

What are some ways to ensure your furnace is operating safely and not causing a carbon monoxide leak into your home?

A Digital Combustion Analyzer Can Tell You if Your Furnace Is Safe

When you have natural gas household appliances in your home, it is important to ensure that they are all operating according to any manufacturer’s specifications and safety requirements. Making sure your appliances have safe combustion is one of those safety requirements.  This is where a combustion analyzer comes into play – it can help ensure all your appliances are venting carbon monoxide properly.

Here at Air Temp Solutions, we take this very seriously! All our technicians are equipped with a combustion analyzer on their trucks. Our technicians use this tool very often – whether they are diagnosing a heating problem or just completing your annually scheduled maintenance.

Our technicians will start your furnace and then use their combustion analyzer to take several readings around and inside of your furnace and even your living space!  We let you know about your readings and any concerns associated with carbon monoxide leaks or other issues.

Our combustion analyzer can also come in handy with helping to diagnose your furnace with any efficiency concerns. We can do this because the combustion analyzer will show us what gases and how much of that gas is moving through your flue pipes. If we find that levels are not what they should be, then your furnace might not be operating as efficiently as it should be. These sorts of combustion issues are not dangerous (they are not CO leaks), but they do affect the efficiency of your furnace.  If this problem arises, our HVAC technicians are trained to help make any changes needed to your furnace to increase its operating efficiency.

We Always Tell You if There Is a Problem With Your Gas Furnace

Your safety is our number one priority.  If we detect any carbon monoxide leaks from your system or any problem (such as those listed above) that puts you at risk of an upcoming carbon monoxide leak, we let you know right away. We also make sure to let you know of any efficiency concerns so that we can get your furnace operating correctly and let you avoid any issues with it.

What You Should if You Are Concerned About Your Furnace Producing a Carbon Monoxide Leak

  1. Invest in a good carbon monoxide detector for your home.
  2. Call your HVAC company and ask if they can perform a combustion analysis for you.
  3. Invest in yearly maintenance and tune-ups on your furnace.

Here at Air Temp Solutions, we always take our time to perform a thorough combustion analysis of furnaces during any heating tune-up. This is the only way for us to know whether every furnace is heating a building safely and efficiently. Our Service Plan Members receive this service each year with their memberships.

Carbon monoxide leaks aren’t something to take lightly, but you can avoid them quite easily. Get in touch and give us a call today if you need us to take a look at your furnace!

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