Whenever the mercury plunges outside, we rely on gas furnaces to keep us toasty and warm without overheating our energy bills. And safety is just as important as comfort and efficiency when using your furnace.Did you know 400 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning? This colorless, odorless gas is also responsible for 20,000 emergency room visits and 4,000 hospitalizations each year. CO is harmful to both humans and animals. CO is released any time we burn gas, oil or coal, as when using a furnace to heat our homes. Other sources of carbon monoxide include gasoline-powered cars and trucks, stoves and gas ranges, lanterns, grills and fireplaces. Your furnace should be well-ventilated to prevent CO buildup inside the home. It’s also important to be able to recognize signs that your furnace isn’t working like it should, as well as evidence of a potential CO leak. You’ll want to be familiar with the common symptoms of CO poisoning.You can reduce the risk of CO poisoning by following a number of common-sense safety tips when using your furnace. These include installing a CO detector in your home and scheduling regular preventive maintenance visits with a professional HVAC service technician.
Not every problem with your furnace will mean you have a CO leak. However, learning to recognize and fix small problems early goes a long way toward preventing safety hazards from cropping up in the future. It’s also important for helping your system run more smoothly so you can stay comfortable all winter long without paying more than you have to. For starters, the older your furnace gets the less efficiently it will run. If your system is more than 10 years old, you may need to have it maintenanced more frequently, and eventually a replacement will be the best option. Other things to watch out for are unexplained spikes in your energy bills or a sudden need for more frequent repairs. For many of these issues, there may be simple fixes that you can do on your own. If you can’t determine the cause of the problem, or you’re unable to correct it yourself, that’s when it’s time to call a professional HVAC technician.
Other warning signs to look for include water leaking and puddling near your furnace and animal droppings and other evidence of pests.
As noted above, not all problems with your furnace automatically mean there’s a CO leak. However, there are several signs that do warrant further investigation in order to keep you and your family safe.For example, a yellow flame coming from the furnace or other gas appliance may mean carbon monoxide isn’t being properly vented to the outside. A rusted flue or other components can also hamper ventilation and allow CO to build up inside your home.Here are a few other signs you’ll want to take note of:
While everyone is at risk of CO poisoning, some individuals are more susceptible than others. These include people with heart disease, anemia or respiratory conditions. Infants and seniors are also at greater risk. The symptoms of CO poisoning are often similar to other illnesses, so you’ll want to seek medical attention if you’re unsure. If CO is the culprit, you may notice that symptoms disappear or improve when you’re away from home, or get worse when you’re near gas-burning equipment.
It’s also important to remember that pets can be harmed by CO poisoning, so if your furry friends are showing signs of distress, it could indicate a leak.
First and foremost, have your furnace inspected and serviced at regular intervals. This enables you to detect and fix problems before they become a safety hazard. Your technician will check for small cracks, clogs and other issues which could allow CO to leak into your home. Here are a few other smart moves you can make to reduce the risk of CO exposure:
This risk from CO poisoning is real, but the good news is there are things you can do about it. By operating your furnace safely and recognizing the warning signs, you can stay safe and comfortable all season long.At Lorenz Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, our technicians provide quick repairs and ongoing preventive maintenance to keep your furnace running smoothly. Give us a call at 417-863-1122 or contact us online at any time.