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November 17, 2016

Protecting Your Home from Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Heating our homes has become extremely convenient: when the weather turns cold, we simply flip a switch on the thermostat, and warm air is pumped into our home. Rarely do we pause to think if our furnace’s exhaust system is in proper condition to provide safe, effective service. Our confidence in the safety of our home heating system is usually well-placed: modern oil and gas heating systems have impressive safety records. However, carbon monoxide still poses a serious and potentially deadly threat if it is not properly vented from your home.

What is Carbon Monoxide and its Effects?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is produced by a fuel (such as gasoline, coal, natural gas, wood, kerosene, etc.) whenever it burns. When exposed to carbon monoxide, the hemoglobin protein in your blood attaches to CO rather than to oxygen. This removes the oxygen from your bloodstream, effectively suffocating your cells and organs. This is why even low-level exposure to carbon monoxide can pose serious health risks.

The symptom of carbon monoxide exposure include:

  • Mild exposure: headaches, fatigue and nausea.
  • Medium exposure: a severe, throbbing headache, drowsiness, disorientation, confusion and an accelerated heart rate.
  • Extreme exposure: unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, coma, and possibly death.

Detecting Carbon Monoxide

If your home furnace runs off of gas or oil, having a working carbon monoxide detector in your home is a necessity. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off:

  • Turn off all gas appliances
  • Open your windows and doors to let fresh air into your home
  • Leave the house (with your family and your pets)
  • Call your Newark HVAC technician to test your furnace to make sure it is venting exhaust correctly

How Do Carbon Monoxide Leaks Occur?

The most common cause of a CO leak is a crack in your furnace’s heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the metal tube that is heated by your furnace’s burners. The toxic gases produced by the burners are vented through the inside of the heat exchanger, while cold air passes over the outside, becomes warm, and is blown through your home’s ductwork. If a crack develops in the heat exchanger, there is a potential for carbon monoxide to leak into your home’s ventilation system.

Since the heat exchanger is made of metal, it is constantly expanding and contracting as it warms up then cools. Eventually the metal will fail, forming a crack. The best way to catch cracks before they become problematic is with an annual maintenance check-up from a certified Newark HVAC technician.

You can also prevent premature damage to your heat exchanger by making sure your furnace has sufficient air flow. Do this by keeping the furnace filter clean, making sure return registers aren’t blocked and that there is plenty of open space around the furnace.

Gold Star: the #1 HVAC Technician in Newark

When it comes to the health and safety of your family, trust the experts at Gold Star Services. Our certified, professional Newark HVAC technicians will make sure your furnace is functioning safely and efficiently. Call us anytime of the day or night at 1-302-947-8694 for fast, quality repairs and peace of mind.

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