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Stay Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning This Winter

Well insulated homes save energy. However, this means that less fresh air is coming in from outside, which makes you more vulnerable to carbon monoxide leakage. This gas may enter your home in a number of ways, and poor furnace maintenance can contribute to the problem. Carbon monoxide is undetectable to the human senses and is deadly in high concentrations. This is why carbon monoxide poisoning stories are common in the winter when homes are sealed tight.

Avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning starts with installing detectors in your home, especially in the bedrooms. You must also eliminate the sources of this gas.

Home Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Any form of combustion is a potential source of carbon monoxide. It occurs when you burn fuel inefficiently. For example, the burning wood in your fireplace is inefficient. This is why you must extinguish any burning embers before closing the fireplace damper. Likewise, your heating furnace is a potential source of carbon monoxide.

Usually, two things must happen before your furnace can release this gas. First, its exhaust gas will have to back draft into your home. The exhaust gas follows the path of least resistance. This should be the flue that normally vents the exhaust outdoors. However, flue obstructions, a poorly sized flue, or several powerful exhaust fans running at the same time may cause your furnace exhaust gases to back draft into your house.

Second, your furnace will have to burn fuel inefficiently. A flickering or yellow pilot light is one sign of this. Inefficient combustion can result from poor furnace maintenance. Even if your furnace is running efficiently, a back draft problem still releases other exhaust gases that can affect your health and that of your family.

There is a third way that your furnace can release carbon monoxide into your home. A cracked heat exchanger in an old furnace may allow combustion gases to leak directly into the heated air that's vented into the rooms of your house. Over time, the repeated exposure to heat and metal corrosion, can cause heat exchangers to crack.

If it has been awhile since maintenance work was done on your furnace, now is the time to prepare your furnace for the winter months ahead. Contact us today.

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