The Dangers of a Poorly Maintained Gas Furnace

Here at Rebmann Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we want your home to be as safe as possible year-round. Here are some things to be aware of in your home when it comes to using your gas furnace:

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that’s a byproduct of burning carbon-based fuel. It can make humans and animals very sick, causing symptoms such as headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, and confusion. In high concentrations, it can be fatal.

While all gas furnaces produce a small amount of carbon monoxide, this is usually expelled from the home through the vent system. However, a gas furnace that’s not maintained can produce high levels of carbon monoxide because of the buildup of dirt in the filter or combustion chamber. This can release carbon monoxide into the air supply. At the same time, fractures in the heat exchanger can release the gas. In addition, if the furnace door is damaged and doesn’t close properly, it can cause more carbon monoxide to escape.

Gas Line Leaks

Because gas is combustible, gas line leaks are extremely dangerous. They’re the cause of many home fires and can even cause explosions.

An unmaintained gas furnace might have cracks or holes in the gas lines, and the gas valve might be broken or connections might be loose. Any of these vulnerabilities can be places where gas can escape into your home.

If you smell a bad odor — usually like rotten eggs — and/or hear a hissing sound, you’ve got a gas leak. Evacuate your home immediately, and call the fire department.

Fire Hazard

In addition to gas line leaks, a gas furnace can be a fire hazard for several other reasons. If there are broken parts, the furnace won’t function properly, which could pose a fire risk. Dust and dirt can build up, and when they get hot, they can catch fire. In addition, if there’s clutter within two feet of the furnace, this could be a fire hazard too as it can overheat and ignite.

Always Maintain Your Gas Furnace

Fortunately, you can avoid all of these dangers by properly maintaining your gas furnace. You should regularly — about once a month — inspect it for any visual signs of damage such as dents, cracks, or loose valves. Make sure that the ignition light is burning blue. If it’s yellow or some other color, then there’s a problem with the combustion and you need to have a technician take a look right away. You should also listen for unusual sounds, as they can also indicate damage. Refer to the manual to determine whether the filters need to be replaced or cleaned and how often. For the best and safest results, follow these instructions to the letter.

If you need furnace maintenance, call Rebmann today to schedule your service! 

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Carbon Monoxide & Heating System Safety Alert!

Recently, Rebmann received an emergency call at 7 pm from a homeowner saying that the fire department was in their home due to their carbon monoxide detectors going off. The local fire department measured an extremely dangerous level of 80ppm of “CO” in their home.

All the windows were opened and the heating system was shut down as a possible source of elevated CO levels. Rebmann responded that evening and performed a draft test, visual inspection of the Gas Boiler and Surrounding gas-fired appliances. The system was left off – pending further inspection by Rebmann the following day.

Rebmann both recommended and installed additional makeup air to the mechanical room. This lessened the possibility of carbon monoxide production by the boiler and support draft in the chimney. Our meters indicated that the boiler had carbon monoxide gas leaking from the top and into the home.

We disassembled the boiler which revealed gaps around the gas flu box ( Can cause high CO levels in and around the boiler). The box was resealed and the boiler was reassembled. Mysteriously, our CO meters still indicated high CO levels outside the boiler room in another part of the home, not near the boiler room.

Great detective work by a Rebmann technician revealed an Acytelene bottle used for making Jewelry had a small leak that was spewing gas. As the forced air system was running it was spreading the gas thru out the house setting off all the Carbon Monoxide detectors.

The most important points of this warning are:

  • Acetylene, propane or any combustible container should always be stored in a well ventilated (vented to the outside) space outside of your home. Combustible gases leaking into a home are extremely dangerous and will set off CO detectors.
  • Have your heating system inspected and tested by a trained professional yearly.
  • Maintain and check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors as per local codes.
  • Make sure your heating equipment room is properly vented with outside air.

Scott Ambrosio
Rebmann Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning