Georgia and Florida residents with gas furnaces must be especially vigilant this heating season. If you use a gas furnace or any gas-fueled appliance, such as a gas oven, gas clothes dryer or gas fireplace, you should be sensitive to the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
What is Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless gas created during the combustion process. As a by-product of the combustion process, CO is produced by burning gasoline, propane, charcoal, wood or other fuels.
In correctly-functioning equipment, the carbon monoxide is vented outdoors. Inside a furnace, for example, the heat exchanger contains the CO within its walls. The gas moves through the flue pipe and to an external vent.
When not vented properly, carbon monoxide can accumulate inside the home and make occupants ill. In large quantities, carbon monoxide gas can become lethal.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
As carbon monoxide builds up in the surrounding air, the oxygen in your red blood cells is replaced with carbon monoxide. This may lead to tissue damage before death. Typical symptoms to carbon monoxide exposure include:
- Dull headache
- Vomiting or Nausea
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
As you can see, many of these symptoms could be easily confused with the flu, a fever or other common illnesses. CO poisoning is especially dangerous to those sleeping or possibly intoxicated. Tragically, some victims are severely or permanently affected before anyone realizes it.
If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Get into fresh air immediately. Call 911 or emergency medical help if you or someone with you is showing signs of CO poisoning. Emergency room doctors typically test a blood sample for carbon monoxide.
Treatment may involve breathing pure oxygen to replace the CO in your blood. Do not return to your home until the source and/or malfunctioning appliance has been identified and removed or repaired.
Prevent Dangers of Gas Furnaces
The easiest way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is first, to be educated about the potential sources, the symptoms and what to do.
Second, install a carbon monoxide detector. These can be hardwired or plugged into the wall. Manufacturers typically recommend CO detectors be placed lower on the wall compared to smoke detectors.
Smoke rises, which is why smoke detectors are usually installed on ceilings. CO gas does not rise in the same way, so detectors should be lower. Some recommendations say “knee-height” or where your head may be during sleep.
Regardless, install it and test it for battery life and proper function. Third, make sure your combusting appliances are in good working order.
Common Precautions with Gas Furnaces
Change your air filter regularly. We recommend checking it monthly and changing it as needed. For most households this is every two to three months.
A clogged or dirty air filter strains a gas furnace. This causes excess wear and tear as well as higher utility bills. An abundance of dirt, dust and other debris in the system also creates the potential of overheating.
When the heat exchanger gets too hot, it’s at risk for cracking. If it cracks, it leaves an opening for the CO gas to escape.
Be sure to schedule regular maintenance for your appliances, such as gas furnaces. As an HVAC company, we stress preventative maintenance for all HVAC equipment, including air conditioners, heat pumps and gas furnaces.
Gas furnaces and air conditioners should have tune-ups once a year. Heat pumps, because they perform both heating and cooling, should have tune-ups twice a year.
During the tune-up, a trained technician inspects your equipment from top to bottom. He or she notes and addresses any irregularities, either by cleaning, lubricating or providing repair recommendations.
The technician would find any cracks in heat exchangers while inspecting gas furnaces. It’s important to note, even well-maintained gas furnaces will develop cracks toward the end of its useful life.
Be sure to prevent stress to your system and get inspections through tune-ups to stay safe. For the most convenience and value, join our Comfort Club!
Trust Ray & Son with Service for Gas Furnaces in Georgia and Florida
When you need a certified and knowledgeable specialist for repairs, service or installation of gas furnaces, heat pumps or other HVAC heating equipment, contact Ray & Son.
For more than 50 years, we’ve served homes and businesses in Southern Georgia and Northern Florida with a warm smile and an honest diagnosis.
Our team serves communities around Nashville and Valdosta, Georgia, including Tifton, Lakeland, Moultrie, Ray City, Douglas, Quitman and Fitzgerald.
We also provide HVAC services to Cogdel, Abac, Jennings, Jasper, Stockton, Hahira, Willacoochee, Madison, Ashburn, Naylor, Pearson, Alapaha and Ocilla.
Our friendly, professional technicians are glad to help. Call us today for all your heating and air service needs. We’d love to bring you greater energy efficiency and comfort!