Last week we addressed an issue that can affect furnaces that still use a standing pilot light: the flame changing to a color other than blue, which often means the pilot light is burning something besides methane, which can lead to the release of toxic chemicals. Sometimes, it can also indicate that the furnace is leaking carbon monoxide, which is a serious danger. We want to look into this more specifically in this post, because if you use natural gas in your for any appliances, you must take precautions regarding carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide (chemical symbol: CO) is a colorless, odorless, and highly toxic gas. It is a common byproduct of combusting natural gas, such as in your furnace or stove. According to the Center for Disease Control, CO poisoning creates symptoms that are often described as “flu-like”: dizziness, headaches, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, and nausea. And yes, excess CO poisoning is lethal. Hundreds of people die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands more are hospitalized or visit the emergency room.
We want to give you this reassurance: a gas furnace in not inherently a significant danger in your house. However, to keep it that way, you need to see that it is serviced regularly each fall by a skilled technician. This will make sure that its safety features are working, and that it doesn’t have gas leaks or a cracked heat exchanger.
There are other ways to reduce the potential danger from CO in your home. Install special battery-powered CO detectors, and replace their batteries once a year. Make sure that any gas-burning equipment you buy has a seal of national approval. For example, see that your gas furnace has the ENERGY STAR label. Never attempt to make any repairs to a gas line or an appliance connected to one on your own, and always call for prompt repair service when you suspect something is amiss with your furnace.
Should you suspect CO in your home, such as when a detector alarm going off, leave the house immediately and call for professional assistance.
Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning can help keep your furnace running safely this winter in Redlands, CA. We serve the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.