How Your Gas Furnace Works
Furnaces create heat by burning fuel (gas or propane). When the fuel burns, it generates hot gasses which travel through curved metal tubing called a heat exchanger. As air passes over the heat exchanger, it absorbs heat from the hot metal surface.
The heated air is then circulated through ducts to warm your home or place of business. Meanwhile, the gasses (combustion air) that are created by the burning fuel are released outside through a metal or plastic vent pipe.
A heat exchanger that is cracked or contains holes or small leaks can release carbon monoxide into your home or place of business. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and is virtually impossible for the human senses to detect. In fact, because carbon monoxide is so hard to detect and is so deadly it has earned the nick-name “The Silent Killer”. Most accidental carbon monoxide poisonings occur from house fires, malfunctioning home-heating systems and hot-water heaters. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning vary significantly. The most common acute symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue. Many carbon monoxide victims frequently attribute these non-specific symptoms to viruses or flu-like illnesses. Severe, continued cases of carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to coma and death.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning inside your home or place of business, it is extremely important an experienced technician service your furnace annually. An annual check-up should include a thorough inspection of the heating unit for cracks, holes, and leaks that can release carbon monoxide into the air. To reduce the risk of fire, the flame itself should be checked for a proper mixture of air and gas. Likewise the safety and limit switches should be tested to insure that the fan runs whenever the heat exchanger is hot and that the unit will shut off should the flame burn beyond the confines of the box.
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