If you use natural gas heating in Northern Kentucky or in the Greater Cincinnati area, furnace carbon monoxide poisoning is something you need to watch out for over the colder months. While carbon monoxide is a normal byproduct of the combustion heating process, furnaces are designed to keep this gas enclosed and vent it outside the home. A broken furnace can allow carbon monoxide to mix with the home’s indoor air supply, creating a potentially deadly situation.

Broken Furnaces Risk Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Carbon monoxide leaks from the furnace can result due to various system flaws. Poor maintenance, improper installation, and other issues can create conditions that cause furnace components to fail and allow carbon monoxide to escape.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

After the furnace combusts fuel, the heat and gases that are created move into the heat exchanger. Air passes over the heat exchanger, absorbing its heat before moving into the home. Carbon monoxide and other byproducts are regularly vented out of the home via the flue.

The heat exchanger is meant to keep air and combustion gases separated inside the furnace. When cracks occur, the heat exchanger no longer maintains this seal, and it is possible for air and carbon monoxide to mix and move into living areas. 

Damaged Flue

The flue vent is meant to direct carbon monoxide and other combustion gases out of the house once their use is fulfilled for home heating. If flue pipes were not installed correctly, they may not properly vent which can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the furnace and mix with air. The flue can become damaged due to weather or other events, or be blocked by leaves or even a bird’s nest. If gases cannot escape the flue, they have no other option but to move back down into the furnace where they shouldn’t be.

Other Signs

There are other furnace issues you may notice that could be an indication of a leak and furnace carbon monoxide poisoning. These include:

  • Excessive soot around the furnace as well as exiting the flue or chimney
  • Brown or yellow stains around the furnace
  • Gas odors (from other combustion gases that are not odorless)
  • Stale air inside the house
  • Burning smells
  • Excess window condensation near the furnace
  • Yellow burner flame

Signs of Furnace Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide gas has no color, odor, or taste, which makes it impossible for humans to detect its presence without the help of technology, like carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed appropriately throughout the home to alert the family to the possibility of furnace carbon monoxide poisoning so that the home can be evacuated. 

If you are in a place without carbon monoxide detectors or your own carbon monoxide detectors fail, it’s helpful to know the other signs that may be present with furnace carbon monoxide poisoning. While it’s sometimes difficult to tell these symptoms apart from other non-life-threatening health conditions, don’t take chances when it comes to your health and safety.

Signs of furnace carbon monoxide poisoning can include:

  • Headaches
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Feeling irritable
  • Memory, coordination, and judgement impairment

If you experience any of these symptoms, evacuate the home immediately. Make an appointment to have your furnace professionally inspected in order to identify the source of the leak and furnace carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not return to the home or use the furnace again until a professional tells you it is ok to do so.

Furnace Service in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Maintaining your furnace is valuable in the prevention of furnace carbon monoxide poisoning. Rusk Heating & Cooling offers furnace maintenance services to help your heating system run correctly, free of dangerous hazards. We also offer furnace repairs should you suspect your furnace may have a problem that could cause carbon monoxide exposure. Contact us today to schedule service.