Preventing A Carbon Monoxide Leak In Your Furnace
Your heating system has been hard at work this winter keeping your family protected from the New England winter – and sometimes, when your equipment pushes a little too hard, it can develop some problems.
One of those problems could be a carbon monoxide (CO) leak. While not as common with an oil-fired furnace as it is with a gas-powered furnace, a carbon monoxide leak can still be extremely dangerous or even deadly if it is not handled quickly and safely.
Carbon Monoxide And Your Furnace
Colorless, odorless carbon monoxide is an exhaust gas produced whenever you burn fuel of any kind. In a furnace, most of the gas lives within the heat exchanger assembly – the part of your furnace that is responsible for, among other things, keeping clean air and exhaust separate. In a properly functioning furnace, all exhaust gases – including carbon monoxide – are directed harmlessly through the flue pipe and vented outside your home.
The problem is that over time, a heat exchanger or its flue pipe could develop cracks, leaving your equipment susceptible to carbon monoxide leaks. These leaks can pose serious health hazards to your family, up to and including death, if they are not properly mitigated!
How To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Build-up
Needless to say, a carbon monoxide buildup is definitely something you want to avoid. Here are the four best ways to do that:
- Service your equipment regularly. The best way to prevent a carbon monoxide problem with your furnace is to have it regularly maintained by professionals. During an annual tune-up, a technician will clean and inspect your furnace, identifying and troubleshooting any issue that could inhibit proper function.
- Keep an eye on your air filter. One cause of a carbon monoxide build-up is obstructed airflow caused by a blocked furnace air filter. Check your filter regularly to make sure air is moving to, within, and away from your furnace.
- Look for the warning signs. In an oil-fired furnace, a build-up of soot or smoke emanating from your equipment is often a telltale sign of a CO leak, which should be addressed immediately.
- Keep your vent/flue pipe clear. Snow, ice, and other debris could block your flue/vent pipe from the outside, sending dangerous gases back into your home. After a storm, be sure to check your exhaust pipe for blockage.
- Never DIY a heating equipment installation. Poorly installed heating equipment and improperly configured ductwork will lead to problems – including serious ones – sooner or later. Heating system installation is always a job for qualified, licensed professionals – unless you’re a licensed pro, never try it yourself.
- Test carbon monoxide alarms twice a year. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, you won’t reliably know when you have a build-up in your home – unless you have CO detectors installed. CO detectors are required in residences by Massachusetts law! Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance, and test them twice a year to make sure they’re working properly.
Have questions about carbon monoxide leaks in your home? We can help! Contact us today to learn more, or to schedule heating equipment installation or heating equipment maintenance in Bristol, Worcester, Middlesex and Norfolk counties, MA!