Fall weather has arrived and with the cooler temperatures comes the need to start your furnace. Most home furnaces are gas or oil-burning appliances that produce CO (carbon monoxide), an invisible, odourless, poisonous gas that kills hundreds every year and makes thousands more sick. The carbon monoxide from your furnace is contained within the walls of its heat exchanger. If your appliance is operating correctly, the gas is directed through your furnace’s flue pipe and safely vented out of your home. Your furnace can develop a crack in its heat exchanger or a blockage or leak in the flue pipes causing carbon monoxide to leak into your home’s air, creating a deadly health hazard. So, how can you ensure that your furnace is operating safely?
- Have your furnace maintained annually by a qualified technician who will perform a full system cleaning and inspection to identify and repair any problems.
- Change your air filter regularly to avoid a backup of airflow to your heating system and ensure that carbon monoxide is safely carried away. A good rule of thumb is to change 1-2 inch filters every three months, 4-inch filters every six months and 5-inch filters every 12 months.
- Ensure your furnace was installed properly: An incorrectly installed blower motor or ductwork that is improperly designed can cause venting problems that lead to CO build up. To avoid this situation, always use a qualified professional when installing and servicing a heating system.
- Invest in carbon monoxide detectors: Since carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless, it’s impossible for you to detect it with your senses. CO detectors will warn of high levels by emitting a high pitched sound before the levels become lethal. Place a CO detector near your furnace and one on every floor of your home. Test them regularly. If your detector sounds, evacuate your home.
- Keep your exterior furnace vent and flue clean by removing snow, ice, leaves, dust, insect/bird/rodent nests and other debris from around the opening.
- Learn the signs of CO poisoning: Despite the presence of carbon monoxide detectors, be aware that fatigue, chest pain, impaired vision, headaches, impaired coordination, dizziness, confusion, nausea and flu-like symptoms are all possible indications of CO exposure.
It’s important to have a certified HVAC service company check your furnace annually. A trained professional will make sure your equipment is safe, clean and in good working order. Avoid problems with carbon monoxide build-up by installing CO detectors and changing your furnace filter regularly.
Do you have questions about carbon monoxide and your furnace? Would you like a heating system serviced or installed in your home? Call Calgary-based Plumbing Paramedics. Our HVAC technicians are friendly, informative and accommodating. Plumbing Paramedics hires only those individuals that we would trust in our own homes! If you’re feeling uneasy about the state of your heating system call us at (403) 452-2911 or email us to book an appointment.
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