As we ring in the New Year we at MTB Mechanical want to warn you about a potential threat which could be lurking inside your own home. This is a silent killer which can invade your home without warning, making you sick and possibly endangering the lives of you and your whole family.
This silent killer is carbon monoxide gas, also known as CO gas. Usually when we hear news stories about CO gas it is related to cars left running inside a closed garage or even someone trying to stay warm by bringing in a barbeque grill inside. But the real threat, the one that results in hundreds of cases of CO poisoning each year, comes from carbon monoxide leaks in your furnace.
These leaks are caused by cracks or rusted out areas in your furnace’s heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are where the ignited natural or propane gases burn, which heats the air surrounding the outside of the exchanger. Normally these hot gases are then harmlessly expelled through vents outside of the home. The heated air outside the heat exchanger is circulated into the home and filtered before returning to the heat exchanger. When a crack forms in a heat exchanger, this allows the CO gases to mix with this air and poison the warm air in your home. The problem is CO gas is odorless and completely invisible. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you might smell a slight odor of smoke, but usually not.
The first symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. If you have been suffering from any of these symptoms, you may want to have your furnace checked for leaks. You may also want to invest in a CO detector which will warn you of any gases entering the home.
To make matters worse, the age of your system is not a factor in whether or not you have a leak. Even a relatively new furnace can develop cracks and this is usually the result of poor maintenance. Air filters do a great job of preventing dust from collecting on coils and heat exchangers, but filters need to be changed every couple of months. If the filter collects too much dust, it restricts the air flow. With less air flowing across the heat exchanger, this will cause it to glow red hot during the heating cycle and expand in size. Then when the thermostat reaches the desired temperature, it cuts off the furnace and the heat exchanger cools down and contracts in size. This repeated expanding and contracting is just like bending an empty soda can back and forth and eventually a crack forms.
What’s even worse is when a clogged air filter is removed and then not replaced immediately. This allows all of those dust particles to collect on the coil and heat exchanger. This can result in a smoky odor as the dust burns off the exchanger and a clogged coil, which is much harder and more expensive to clean.
If you are suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, give MTB Mechanical a call at 704-321-9250. Right now, MTB is offering a Comfort Security Check for only $39.00 where we will check the heat exchanger, safety controls, wiring, temperature rise, temperature limit controls, the thermostat, air filters and other safety hazards like leaves or debris. If we find a crack, we will offer you several options to either fix or replace your furnace.
In the mean time, check your air filters, stay safe and sleep warm.