Winter is just around the corner, and that means it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to fire up your furnace in order to keep your home comfortable throughout the freezing cold days and nights. But unless you’ve had your furnace inspected professionally, are you really ready for the worst that winter can throw at you? Simply turning on your furnace after months of inactivity and expecting it to work could lead to some pretty serious consequences.
The Dangers of Furnace Leaks
A furnace which hasn’t been inspected or maintained is one which is far more likely to experience one of a number of problems over the next several months. Not only are they more likely to face breakdowns, but a furnace which hasn’t been operated for quite a while is also far more likely to have a leak. Leaks in your furnace could potentially be devastating. Not only could this lead to gas potentially leaking into your home (a bad enough problem as it is), but they can also lead to the potential for carbon monoxide to escape into your home. And carbon monoxide can be deadly.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of the combustion process, whereby fuel (natural gas) is burned to release energy in the form of heat, which we then use to heat our homes. This gas is completely colorless, tasteless and odorless, which means you can’t see it, smell it or taste it in the air around you. However, unlike carbon dioxide which is a common part of the air we breathe, carbon monoxide is toxic and can be fatal if ingested in large quantities.
How Carbon Monoxide Escapes
Carbon Monoxide is a natural byproduct of the burner in your furnace. When your burner ignites the fuel, it creates heat along with exhaust which contains carbon monoxide. Any small leak in your furnace’s burner chamber could allow carbon monoxide to escape, either into your home directly or into the air that’s passed through your heat exchanger, which is then pumped throughout your home. Before you know it, your entire home could have carbon monoxide present.
How to Handle the Risk of Carbon Monoxide
Before we go any further, we need to let you know that this isn’t intended to scare you away from the idea of using your furnace during winter. In fact, your furnace is designed to handle the carbon monoxide risk by venting the exhaust directly into the atmosphere above your home. Outside, the monoxide reacts with oxygen to create carbon dioxide, which plants consume to turn back into pure oxygen once again.
However, whenever you have an open flame you’re also creating even the smallest amount of carbon monoxide, and hours and hours of continuous furnace use means you could be creating more than what would be considered “safe.” As heating professionals, we strongly recommend a few different things when it comes to preparing your furnace for winter.
First, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed near your furnace in order to notify you of any potentially high levels of carbon monoxide. If your detector goes off during normal furnace use, leave your home right away and call a professional to request a repair. Keep the doors and windows of your home open to allow fresh air to cycle through and dissipate the carbon monoxide levels.
Second, have your furnace inspected before the start of winter to make sure your furnace is completely sealed and leak-free. An inspection is included with a general maintenance and tune-up service, which also allows your furnace to operate at peak energy efficiency.
Schedule your furnace inspection and tune-up service by calling ARCO Comfort Air at (216) 230-5117 today!