Furnaces & Carbon Monoxide: What Are the Dangers?
As furnaces age, there is a greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. A faulty furnace, while difficult to self-diagnose and service, can create a health hazard to harm you and your family. Carbon monoxide is hard to notice until it begins to affect your health. Know the signs and causes of carbon monoxide poisoning so you don’t become a victim to the fumes and know how to fix the problem.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that has no taste, smell or initial reaction during exposure. Don’t let the seemingly innocent nature of carbon monoxide fool you as it is a dangerous gas that can be fatal in high dosages. In many cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can go unnoticed as you can’t see or smell the gas to warn you that anything is wrong.
What Are the Effects?
On a basic level, carbon monoxide can cause minor health concerns such as nausea, headaches and drowsiness. However, with further exposure, the gas can eventually stop oxygen usage and shut down your nervous system to the point of death.
If you have any health conditions, you are more susceptible to poisoning. However, even the healthiest of people are still vulnerable to the harmful effects of the fumes.
How Does It Spread Through Your Home?
When a furnace heats air for your home, the air and the natural gas meet in the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger allows the burned natural gas to heat the air without mixing the two gases. However, if there is a leak in the heat exchanger, the burned fumes contaminate the newly-heated air and then the contaminated air flows through your home, exposing you and your family to the toxic substance.
How Do You Fix and Prevent the Problem?
The best means of carbon monoxide prevention is by getting your furnace checked every year by a professional technician to diagnose any potential problems. Most furnaces last for around twenty years, but even newer furnaces are subject to leaks and cracks that can provoke carbon monoxide contamination. Due to the silent nature of the gas, you may not realize you have a problem until you have the furnace inspected. This inspection can detect the presence of carbon monoxide and possibly save the lives of you and your family.
The harder your furnace works, the greater the risk for cracks inside the heat exchanger. In order to help keep your furnace in working condition, clean the area around the heater and be sure the filters and passageways are clear for air to pass through with ease.
Moisture and consistent usage also contributes to a faulty furnace. The metal in the furnace, specifically in the heat exchanger, can bend and flex to the point of breakage and form cracks that can release the poisonous fumes.
Make sure you don’t fall victim to the toxic gases of carbon monoxide and get your furnace inspected. One furnace inspection could be a lifesaver for you and your family.