Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that is an unintentional byproduct of gas-run appliances, including furnaces. Usually, furnace carbon monoxide leaks don’t linger inside a home with sufficient airflow, but sometimes its accumulations can rise to dangerous levels.
The gas is called “the silent killer,” which is why you should know the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to prevent it from seeping through your furnace. At Mission Comfort, we have ample experience working with gas furnaces. We aim to keep our customers safe and comfortable, so we have a guide below to teach you everything you should know about carbon monoxide.
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is poisonous to people, animals, and plants. It is a byproduct of burning combustible fuel sources like wood, natural gas, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, and gasoline due to incomplete combustion. The improper combustion could occur due to poor aeration and low-quality fuel sources.
Dangerous concentrations of CO can quickly build up in an indoor space without sufficient ventilation and cause significant health issues before you realize it. Inhaling CO could produce short-term and long-term health effects or death by asphyxiation.
That is why natural gas companies add an unpleasant scent to their supplies to help customers know if their gas-run appliances are leaking. However, it can be almost impossible to detect a carbon monoxide leak from other fuel sources without a CO detector or knowing the warning signs of a leak.
Carbon monoxide is also highly flammable. A fire or explosion is a risk in a home with a furnace carbon monoxide leak. If concentrations are high enough, something as small as a lit match could ignite the gas and decimate a house.
How Leaks From Your Furnace Can Affect Your Health
Many people with CO leaks from their furnace experience flu-like health problems, which may indicate carbon monoxide poisoning. Some of the short-term symptoms of the condition include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Blurry vision
- Fatigue or weakness
Some furnace gas leaks are small enough to go unnoticed for some time, which can prolong a household’s exposure to CO. Studies show that 10% to 15% of people with severe carbon monoxide poisoning can experience long-term physical and cognitive complications, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Vision and memory loss
- Coronary heart disease
Early Signs of a Furnace Carbon Monoxide Leak
Though you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide leaking from your furnace, there are ways to tell if your home has a problem with the poisonous gas. The following warning signs will let you know that your home has a buildup of CO, and you need to take action immediately for your household’s health and safety:
- Scent of gas, which has the chemical additives to resemble the smell of rotten eggs
- Stuffy indoor air
- Burning odors
- Yellow gas furnace burner flame instead of blue
- Unexplained condensation on the windows near the leak
Some of these warning signs can indicate a gas leak from the furnace or another problem. For instance, if your home feels stuffy, you could have a ventilation issue. However, if you notice any of these problems and have some signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, vacate your home and contact your gas company or local fire department immediately.
Causes of Furnace Carbon Monoxide Leaks
Any time you burn combustible fuel in your home, you risk a CO leak. That includes heating your home. Below are some of the most common ways a gas furnace develops a carbon monoxide problem.
A furnace has a heat exchanger to produce heat. The component consists of metal coils that absorb and transfer heat from the air circulating over the rings. It is part of the combustion process because burners in the furnace heat the coils to perform a heat exchange.
If the heat exchanger develops a crack, air can flow over the burner instead of the coils. As a result, the combustion will be incomplete, leading to a carbon monoxide leak.
Your home could also have a CO leak if the furnace’s filters are too dirty. Air filters improve indoor air quality by trapping airborne particles that flow through an Heating and AC system. It would be best to change one-use screens or clean multiple-use screens every 30 to 90 days.
If furnace filters are clogged, it will restrict airflow through the appliance. Without enough air circulating over the heat exchanger, the coils could overheat, crack, and release CO into the home.
Poor Ventilation System
It would be tough to identify a carbon monoxide leak with a proper ventilation system because most of the exhaust gas will filter outdoors. However, if the furnace isn’t venting carbon monoxide correctly, the gas is seeping indoors.
A sign that the heating system has insufficient ventilation is condensation on the windows near the furnace or the location of a CO leak. Carbon monoxide doesn’t condense on glass, but one of the byproducts of combustion is water vapor. Condensation on the interior side of windows could mean that the furnace’s exhaust gases are not venting outdoor properly.
Steps to Take if You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If carbon monoxide triggers a CO alarm in your home or you suspect you’re feeling the effects of carbon monoxide poison, you must leave home immediately. Seek treatment at a local emergency room to prevent long-term health problems. You can also call the Poison Control Center for additional instructions.
After you and your family receive medical treatment, call your local gas or oil company or fire department for assistance. These authorities can identify the source of the carbon monoxide leak.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaking into Your Home
It can be challenging to determine the presence of harmful CO inside your home. However, you can prevent furnace carbon monoxide leaks by ensuring that your system is in optimal condition.
Here are some CO exposure prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Replace outdated furnaces over 20 years old with an energy-efficient model
- Seek emergency Heating and Air Conditioning repairs for unusual furnace smells or noises
- Schedule annual furnace tune-ups with a reputable Heating and Cooling company
- Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, including hallways with bedrooms
Quality Heating and Cooling Services from Mission Comfort
If your furnace leaks carbon monoxide, you need the immediate assistance of a qualified Heating and Air Conditioning company to address the issue and keep your family and belongings safe. Mission Comfort in Waldorf, MD, offers exceptional furnace repair, installation, and maintenance services to keep your heating system in excellent condition.
No job is too much for our skilled technicians to handle because we have experience working on:
- Blower motors
- Air filters
- Flame sensors
- Pilot lights
- Fuel sources
- Circuit breakers
- And more
If you suspect you’re dealing with a furnace carbon monoxide leak, immediately contact your local gas provider or fire department. Once your home is safe to inhabit, our team can quickly repair or replace the system with a safe, updated unit.
Sometimes the best solution to a heating system issue is furnace installation services by Mission Comfort. We are expert installers for all types of electric, gas, and propane furnaces. We also offer Heating and AC maintenance plans to keep your new heating system in excellent condition after its installation.
Whether you have a furnace carbon monoxide leak or a furnace with rust inside, you can be confident that Mission Comfort in Waldorf, MD, can promptly address your Heating and AC concerns. Call (301) 701-3739 or complete our online form to request an appointment today.