Every year, as the temperature drops and your home’s furnace turns on, you and your family may be at risk. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that, when leaked into the air you breathe, can be hazardous to your health or even lethal. It is invisible, tasteless, and odorless, which can make detection difficult if you aren’t aware of its presence or the signs to watch for.
Carbon Monoxide And Why It Is Dangerous
Furnace carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, and poisonous gas that is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal. When the air you breathe contains carbon monoxide, your red blood cells replace the oxygen with carbon monoxide from a furnace. This prevents your body’s tissues and organs from receiving the required oxygen.
How much carbon monoxide does a furnace produce? An efficiently burning furnace will produce minimal amounts of CO. However, a dirty and inefficiently burning furnace will have larger amounts.
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel carbons burn incompletely. Fuels that can produce CO include:
- And natural gas.
On average, around 170 deaths in the US yearly are due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Products and appliances that you may have in your home which can produce this deadly gas may include:
- Gas stoves and ovens
- Clothes dryer
- Water heaters
- Space heaters that run on gas
- Portable generators
- Both gas and wood-burning fireplaces
- And other appliances that operate on the burning of fuels.
Many items you might store in your garage can also produce carbon monoxide. This includes your vehicle, power tools, lawn equipment, pressure washers, etc. It is important always properly to ventilate any enclosed space that houses these items.
Signs And Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Your brain and heart are the two most important organs in your body. They are also the organs that are affected the most when you are exposed to carbon monoxide. CO poisoning is especially dangerous for sleeping individuals under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Without warning, carbon monoxide can cause brain damage or death before the individual realizes and reacts to the threat. When exposed to carbon monoxide, you may begin to exhibit flu-like symptoms only without the presence of a fever. These symptoms would include:
- Headache or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Feeling drowsy or extremely fatigued
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Weakness or loss of muscle control
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
Even after recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, you may still experience symptoms related to the nervous system. These symptoms may include memory loss, trouble with movement, and personality changes. An older individual who lost consciousness from CO exposure is more at risk.
Causes And How To Tell If Your Furnace Is Leaking Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide can leak into your home due to several furnace-related issues. For example, your home’s furnace may develop cracks in the heat exchanger or flue pipes, allowing CO to escape into the air. Moisture in your furnace’s flue pipes can lead to holes and leaks. A defective blower motor or faulty ductwork can also result in issues involving your home’s venting. A dirty furnace filter may also be a cause behind an overheated and cracked furnace heat exchanger.
Unfortunately, you cannot simply detect a leak in your furnace by looking at it. Carbon monoxide detectors and other special equipment are necessary for carbon monoxide levels and leaks. However, there are signs you can watch for in your home that can be an early warning indicating carbon monoxide accumulation.
Signs to be aware of and watch for include:
- Rust on the vent pipe
- Stale or stuffy air indoors
- The Pilot light burns yellow instead of blue
- The Smell of gas or something burning
- The pilot light won’t stay lit and continuously blows out
- The appearance of yellow or brown soot-like stains around the appliance
- Heavy condensation on windows that share the same space as the furnace
These signs can be subtle, and you may not immediately notice them. This is why it’s vital for your and your family’s health to know the signs of CO accumulation and CO poisoning.If you suspect a leak but aren’t sure, it is best to contact a professional and check your furnace. Mission Comfort employs experts in furnace replacement, installation, and repair.
Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Knowing the signs and symptoms can be very helpful in identifying when there is an accumulation of carbon monoxide in your home. However, prevention is always the best way to keep you and your family safe.
Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The first step you want to take is to install carbon monoxide detectors. Each level in your home should have at least one, including the basement, if your home has one. How far should the carbon monoxide detector be from the furnace? It is suggested that you should install them between 5-20 feet from any CO-producing appliance.
These detectors should also be near or on the ceiling since carbon monoxide tends to rise. Positioning the detectors near bedrooms is also beneficial since you want to hear them clearly and react quickly should they go off.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
How to find a carbon monoxide leak in a furnace? While you can find plenty of DIY fixes online, hiring a professional is the best route to ensure a quality fix. Scheduling regular furnace tune-ups is another preventative measure for furnace leaks. Annual furnace maintenance will help your system remain in tip-top shape and avoid unnecessary problems such as leaks. A professional technician will service your furnace by inspecting, cleaning, and testing it to ensure it is functioning properly.
What To Do If Your Furnace Is Leaking
If you know or suspect that your furnace has a leak, immediately get everyone outside and to fresh air. Once everyone is out and accounted for, alert the authorities and do not reenter the home for any reason. If the source of carbon monoxide happens to be a faulty appliance, it is crucial that you do not operate that appliance for any reason until it has been properly serviced.
Can carbon monoxide come from a furnace that is off? No, it cannot, so it is vital for your safety and health to leave the unit off until it is properly fixed. For five-star service and fair pricing, the professionals at Mission Comfort can help you schedule regular maintenance for your home’s heating and air conditioning.
Contact Us Today For Your Furnace Repair And Maintenance Needs
At Mission Comfort, we understand the importance of having peace of mind as a homeowner. That is why we offer professional services at budget-friendly prices. We care about the comfort and well-being of our customers, and our technicians will assist you with any issues you have – big or small. Please don’t wait until it is too late; call us today and help us keep your home and family healthy and safe. Contact us now.