Your heating system is meant to keep you warm and comfortable. You would hate to have it turn against you and do more harm than good, but in fact, that does happen to an average of 430 people who die of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year in the United States.
CO is a poisonous, odorless gas that’s emitted whenever fuel is burned. If your heating system is working properly, CO should be vented out of your home. But sadly, there are rare cases in which that does not happen. Luckily, you can almost always prevent CO poisoning by being proactive. Here are five key ways to keep your family safe this winter.
Have All HVAC Work Done By Professionals
Even if you’re a seasoned DIYer, you should never work on your heating system yourself. HVAC professionals have years of training to ensure they install systems properly to prevent CO leaks. Whether your duct work needs adjusting or your furnace is making a banging noise, it’s worth paying a professional for the assurance of safety.
Keep An Eye Out For Signs Of A Cracked Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is the metal component that surrounds the furnace’s burner. Heat passes through the exchanger and into the air being blown through your home. If the exchanger cracks, then CO can leak through that crack and into your indoor air. Cracked heat exchangers are one of the most common causes of CO poisoning because many people don’t recognize the signs of a cracked heat exchanger, which include:
- Soot accumulation on the outside of the furnace
- A chemical odor when your furnace runs
- Water condensing on the floor near your furnace
- A rattling noise right before the blower turns on
These signs don’t always indicate a cracked heat exchanger. For instance, a rattling noise is sometimes due to loose connections in the ducts. However, you’re always better safe than sorry, so turn off your furnace and call an HVAC professional if you notice any of these possible signs of a cracked heat exchanger.
Check Your CO Detectors
CO detectors regularly take samples of the air and make a ringing noise if they detect CO. You should have a CO detector on each floor of your home. Make sure one is located close enough to your bedroom that you’ll hear it at night. Check the batteries monthly and change the batteries twice per year. Invest in new CO detectors every 10 years.
Know The Warning Signs
Knowing the signs of CO poisoning will help you detect the issue before it turns deadly. If anyone in your family is experiencing headaches, weakness, confusion, and dizziness that get worse when they are at home, consider the possibility of CO poisoning.
Always seek medical care when CO poisoning is suspected; it’s considered a medical emergency. Don’t return to the home until an HVAC professional or your local fire department has deemed it safe.
Be Careful With Generators And Other Gas Appliances
It’s not just your furnace that releases CO! Any other fuel-burning appliance, such as a gas generator or a gas stove, can cause CO poisoning, too. Follow these general tips for safety:
- Only run your generator outside, and make sure it is far from any windows, doors, or vents.
- Never heat your home with a stove or oven.
- Do not grill outside or near your windows.
- Have all fireplaces inspected once a year before you begin using them.
CO poisoning is scary, but there is plenty you can do to protect yourself during heating season. If you ever notice anything amiss with your heating system, don’t hesitate to give Dalton Heating & Air Conditioning . We’ll look your system over and make sure any problems are dealt with before they put your family at risk.