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The Threat of a Furnace Carbon Monoxide Leak

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Leaks from a Furnace

It’s well known that furnaces are a critical part of life here in Michigan. No homeowner wants to be caught without reliable heating during one of our famously freezing winters, so it is incredibly important to have your furnace inspected before the winter weather begins to ensure it’s ready to keep you and your family warm.

One of the most important things we check during a furnace inspection is carbon monoxide levels. While it’s normal for slight amounts to be present in certain parts of your furnace, finding it in the air distributed throughout your home can be deadly!

At Technical Hot & Cold, we think of our customers as family. Not only is it our job to keep your furnace running all winter long with professional service and maintenance, but also to ensure that you’re safe and comfortable. We want to make sure that you understand the dangers of carbon monoxide, how to recognize a leak, and what to do if it happens to you.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas, and a byproduct of any equipment that burns fossil fuel to generate heat; that includes furnaces that run on natural gas. Your furnace is designed to separate and exhaust carbon monoxide through its heat exchanger before distributing warm air throughout your home.

Why Is Carbon Monoxide So Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide poisoning via inhalation is responsible for 500 deaths and 15,000 emergency room visits every year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

To put it in perspective, oxygen typically comprises about 200,000 parts per million (ppm) of the air you breathe in your home. A CO concentration of just 70ppm is enough to cause negative symptoms in healthy adults within minutes including:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred Vision
  • Weakness
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath

Worst case scenario, a CO concentration of just 440ppm can lead to unconsciousness and death within a couple hours.

How Do I Know If My Furnace Is Leaking Carbon Monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide itself is both colorless and odorless. However, the presence of the gas in combination with your furnace’s typical combustion process can produce visual and olfactory warning signs that can indicate a leak in progress. Warning signs to look for include:

  • Heavy condensation on windows, walls, and other surfaces around the furnace
  • Soot or rust forming on furnace components
  • Soot build-up around vents or smoke coming through vents
  • “Burning” or “overheating” smell coming through vents
  • Rattling sounds accompanied by a pickle smell coming through vents
  • Yellow burner flame instead of blue
  • Unexplained drooping and dying houseplants

What Do I Do If I Suspect a Carbon Monoxide Leak?

 If you think your furnace might be leaking carbon monoxide, you should NEVER attempt to deal with it yourself. Instead, do the following:

  • Get everyone out of the house immediately, including pets.
  • Call Technical Hot & Cold. We have the training and knowledge necessary to safely resolve carbon monoxide leaks in your furnace.
  • In extreme cases, your local gas company and/or fire department may need to be called.
  • Go to the emergency room and make sure you didn’t suffer any effects from gas exposure.

Don’t Risk Your Family’s Safety This Winter…

A furnace inspection is one of the most inexpensive services we offer at Technical Hot & Cold. And, especially in the case of carbon monoxide, it is the most vital to keeping yourself and family safe and warm during the winter months. Schedule a furnace inspection with us online or by calling (734) 326-3900!

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