Preventing Dangerous Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Heating season approaches, and with it brings the inevitable increase of usage from your heating/energy system. For those with heat pumps, this equates to a rise in the electricity bill. For those with gas furnaces, your heating or gas bill numbers will rise about as dramatically as your blood pressure did when you saw said heating/gas bill. It’s a tricky time of the year, considering the possibility that something is much more likely to go wrong with your furnace clocking overtime if it has gotten older, dirtier, or has not been properly maintained.
Ideally, we’d like to think that, in any sort of critical malfunction or error, the system would simply shut itself off and call your contractor to get it all sorted out as soon as possible with no extra baggage. The fact is that gas furnaces are not nearly this glamorous and with so many fuel lines and ducts connecting it to your house, as well as no regulation or kill switches integrated into the system, the only one who can predict and prevent something from going wrong is you. Out of the array of different poorly-maintained furnace issues that one can face, there is one issue that can be detrimental to you and your family: the silent and odorless killer, carbon monoxide leakage.
How is CO Related To My Furnace?
A gas furnace uses combustion to create energy. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide is a byproduct of the combustion. Usually, in a regularly functional furnace, the carbon monoxide is mostly contained within the walls of the furnace. More specifically, the heat exchanger within the furnace contains most of the carbon monoxide, which then flows through a flue pipe and out of your home. As you can probably guess by now, on appliances that have not been properly maintained and checked, things can start to go wrong. Cracks, clogs, and corrosion can cause malfunctions within this process and release carbon monoxide into your home that you may not be able to detect. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to avoid this crisis.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Since the gas is odorless and humanly undetectable, getting carbon monoxide detectors installed near your system will help alert you and your residents at a moment’s notice. Whenever carbon monoxide levels are sensed in the air surrounding the detector, it will begin to chirp like a smoke detector. Many detectors will even have the option for fire department signaling when they trigger. This can be very useful to get the help you need when it happens.
Carbon monoxide detectors come in all shapes and sizes these days and it is fairly easy to find one that fits your home’s style. Contractors will often offer to install hardwired ones for you at a fairly decent price. There are even wireless ones that you can manually install yourself if you’re more of a DIY kind of person. There are even detectors that can be hooked up in conjunction with a security system and smoke detector, so your house is covered in more ways than just one. We would not advise putting the carbon monoxide detector directly next to the furnace, for it would most likely trip every day. Instead, set one or two up directly outside the room you have the furnace located in.
As was stated earlier, one cause of carbon monoxide leakage is a backup of airflow to your furnaces’ motor and components. This backup is often caused by a clogged or dirty filter that is not letting the proper amount of air through the system. This is a very common risk, especially if the place where your furnace is located is particularly dusty or dirty. That dust can get swept up into your system, caught by the filter, and then compounded over time to cause a clog.
Check the air filter(s) in your furnace at least every 3 months and change them accordingly. It is pretty easy to determine if they need to be changed visually, as a dirty/clogged filter will look dusty and old. We recommend shelling out the extra cash for a quality brand filter instead of a cheap one. They will last much longer and provide for a healthier furnace that will help it in the long run. You’ll also be saving money on an hourly contractor who may have been charging you when he/she needed to complete this task.
It is always advised that you get a trained professional’s eyes on your furnace at least once a year to ensure everything’s running smoothly and take care of any dirty work that your furnace requires. They will most likely be able to catch small nuances that your furnace is showing before they get out of control. The experts at King Air will be able to help you!
Carbon monoxide emergencies are entirely reliant on prevention, not reaction. The more time you put into prevention, the less likely it will be that you need to react to an emergency when it happens. Our main goal is to ensure your safety when dealing with large appliances like your furnace. Take these precautionary steps and apply them to your furnace to keep your loved ones and residents safe today.