Furnace Repair Lakeland: Carbon Monoxide and Your Furnace
Everyone is worried about carbon monoxide at some point.
And they should be. Carbon monoxide presents a serious danger to your home ...
… if you aren’t educated on how to prevent it.
That’s where we come in. Our job as HVAC furnace and heating repair technicians gives us a unique insight into the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and the things that any homeowner can do to protect themselves and their household.
Furnace and heating repair - So what do you really know about CO?
Carbon monoxide is poisonous. It is also colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it one of the more insidious dangers in your home. Carbon monoxide is produced by gas dryers, water heaters, fireplaces, generators, fuel-burning appliances like gas stoves, kerosene lanterns, automobiles, and, of course, your furnace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 430 people die annually in the US from accidental CO poisoning.
- 50,000 ER visits every year are due to accidental CO poisoning.
There are also these surprising statistics:
- More than a third of homeowners aren’t sure if they have a carbon monoxide detector.
- More than two-thirds of surveyed homeowners couldn’t list the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Over one-third of carbon monoxide-related deaths occur in the winter.
Furnaces (whether propane, natural gas or wood) heat your home through the combustion of a fuel source. That produces carbon monoxide. When your furnace is working properly, very little carbon monoxide is produced, and what little there might be is harmlessly vented out of your home.
When a furnace is functioning improperly, it can suddenly begin producing greater amounts of CO and failing to vent it from your home. That can be deadly if a furnace repair expert doesn’t get to it quickly.
Let’s talk about your furnace heat exchanger.
Your furnace is an extremely complex machine. While it’s not uncommon for the members of our furnace repair Lakeland team to throw around a little technical jargon, it’s important that we give you a basic understanding of your heat exchanger.
Your heat exchanger is extremely aptly named. Its purpose is to efficiently exchange heat from one surface to another. In practice, it’s the part of your furnace that literally heats the air. It’s essentially a series of coils that get very hot, allowing your blower (the fan part of your HVAC system) to blow air across, heating it.
It’s like blowing on hot coffee but in reverse.
This critical component isn’t infallible; in short, your heat exchanger can crack or fail. As it heats and cools over and over again year-round due to its own functions and the changing weather, it can produce cracks. It can also rust due to moisture.
In specific failure conditions, a cracked or failing heat exchanger can cause carbon monoxide to mix with the air in your home. That’s a definite safety concern.
What happens if the furnace heat exchanger cracks?
A cracked heat exchanger allows the exhaust (the gas produced by burning fuel) to escape into your home. It’s essentially pumping poison into your home. In order for this to happen at dangerous levels, your furnace must be producing high levels of exhaust, but if it happens, it could lead to serious illness.
And yes, it can even be deadly.
Are there early warning signs?
The best line of defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is furnace repair Lakeland technicians, who can perform a visual inspection to identify cracks and make necessary repairs to your system.
Additionally, though, there are signs you yourself can watch for:
- If your pilot flame is flickering, it could be a sign that circulated air from your furnace is reaching the portion of your system that burns fuel. An HVAC technician should be called in to confirm.
- If your pilot light is burning yellow, rather than blue, it could be a sign of developing problems with your furnace that could prove hazardous.
- If members of the household seem sick, lightheaded, or nauseous, it could be a symptom of CO poisoning.
- Check the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector! Those exist specifically to provide you with an emergency warning.
How can I tell if my gas furnace heat exchanger is damaged or failing?
Air Repair Lakeland employs NATE (North American Technician Excellence), certified technicians. Part of achieving that certification involves highly specialized training in furnace repair. That includes identifying a cracked heat exchanger.
We use our eyes, but we also use specialized cameras. We’re able, when possible, to physically show you the crack in your heat exchanger. We will also bring in sensitive equipment to test your home and furnace for the presence of carbon monoxide.
If your furnace is working properly, our equipment will confirm it and set your mind at east. If it is not, we will absolutely know, and we can advise you of the critical next steps to ensure your family’s safety.
After diagnosing a damaged furnace heat exchanger, what do we do?
The next steps we mentioned above only come after a confirmed diagnosis. No reputable HVAC or furnace repair company will ever give you the runaround on something this critical.
Your first question will usually be: do I repair or replace?
That’s an easy question. A cracked heat exchanger should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be replaced. Be very wary of any company offering to save you money by “repairing” or “remanufacturing” a cracked heat exchanger. The American Gas Association advises that any visible crack or hole in a heat exchanger is fair cause for immediate replacement.
Sometimes, replacing the heat exchanger isn’t enough – but not always.
Sometimes, when a customer’s heat exchanger fails, the HVAC contractor who has the job will get asked, “Do I have to replace everything?”
And this may be an area where some companies fudge the truth in order to get a big job or because they aren’t sure.
If may end up being the case that replacing the entire furnace rather than only the heat exchanger is the best option, but not always. The first thing to do is check with your manufacturer or manual to confirm the status of your warranty. They vary – some cover the heat exchanger for 10 years, others for 20, and a few for the entire life of the furnace.
(Side note: when you purchase a furnace, it’s good to do so with the warranty in mind.)
Our job is to dig into your warranty situation and tell you your best available options. If replacing the damaged part is the way to go, we’ll happily do that for you. If we have to give you the slightly more shocking news that you’ll need a new furnace, we’ll work with you to make it affordable.
Air Repair Lakeland: Furnace Repair Expert Tips for Carbon Monoxide Safety
The technicians at Air Repair Lakeland have done more than a few repairs and installations after a carbon monoxide incident. Because CO is so difficult to detect with your own senses, we advise taking serious precautions.
You should replace your carbon monoxide detectors with a new model every five years or so. You should also test them monthly to ensure the alarm and batteries are functioning properly.
Preventive Maintenance is key to a safe furnace or heating system.
While it’s your job to make sure you change the batteries in your CO detectors, it isn’t your job to make sure your furnace is in good shape. It’s ours. Our service contracts include annual tune-ups, which are great for ensuring that your system is always operating in peak condition. If there’s an impending problem with your furnace, the tune-up is our best chance to catch it while it’s small enough to be easily handled.
Call Air Repair Lakeland for air conditioning and furnace repair today or schedule an appointment on our website.
Furnace and Heating Repair - Keep Your Home Safe: In Summary
- If you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors, get some. Install them at least 15 feet away from heating and cooking appliances. Keep one outside of every area in your home in which someone sleeps.
- Test your detectors every month. Replace your batteries frequently. Replace your detectors ever 5-7 years.
- Get an annual furnace tune-up to make sure nothing sneaks up on you, and your home is safe and warm.
- Don’t warm up your car inside a garage.
- Don’t use any appliance other than your furnace to heat your home (this includes dryers and ovens).
- Do not burn charcoal inside your home or garage.
- If you use a fireplace, have your flues and chimneys inspected and cleaned annually.
About Air Repair Lakeland
Air Repair Lakeland has been providing Florida with heating and air conditioning repair for years. Our company was founded on a commitment to unmatched expertise and unbeatable customer service. We remain active in our neighborhoods and communities and provide the very best in HVAC products and services in the Sunshine State.
For more information about the leading HVAC Company in the Lakeland and Tampa Bay area, drop us a line today. Our customer service team is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.