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Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Leaks From Your Furnace

carbon monoxide safety new yorkWe’re well into winter here in Sullivan County, NY – which means your heating system is working 24/7 to keep your family safe, warm, and comfortable. With all that hard work comes a higher risk of heating system problems – including potential safety problems.

As an appliance that burns fuel to keep you warm, a furnace – whether powered by gas or heating oil – will produce some carbon monoxide (CO) as exhaust. Under normal conditions, that CO is vented harmlessly into the air outside your home. But under some circumstances, the gas can get trapped inside your home, where it can be very dangerous – or, if left unaddressed, even deadly.

The Furnace/CO Connection

The carbon monoxide from your furnace is mostly contained within its heat exchanger – the part of your furnace that is responsible for keeping your breathing air and the combustion process separate. In a functioning, properly vented furnace, exhaust is directed through the flue pipe and safely 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. In an oil-fired furnace, a soot deposit on or smoke emanating from your equipment is often a telltale sign of a CO leak, which should be addressed immediately. In a gas-fired furnace, the warning signs are often undetectable without a CO detector (see below).

Preventing CO Problems

Needless to say, a carbon monoxide buildup is definitely something you want to avoid. Here are the four best ways to do that:

  • Get regular heating maintenance. 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 thoroughly clean and inspect your furnace, identifying and fixing any potential problems that could lead to inadequate function.
  • Change your air filter regularly. One cause of carbon monoxide leaks is a backup of airflow to your heating system. Check your filter for blockages regularly throughout the heating season to ensure proper air movement to, within, and away from your furnace.
  • Only have heating equipment installed by professionals. Poorly installed heating equipment and improperly configured ductwork could lead to venting problems immediately or down the road. Heating system installation is always a job for qualified, licensed professionals – unless you’re a licensed pro, never try it yourself.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, which means that you won’t reliably know when you have a build-up in your home – unless you have CO detectors installed. CO detectors are required by NY State 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.

If you have any questions about carbon monoxide from your furnace – or if you need heating system repairs and installations in Sullivan County, NY – trust the pros at Black Bear. Contact us today to learn more!