Most of us view our homes as inanimate objects, constructed of wood, bricks, steel, glass, and roofing materials. Few look at our houses as a representation of who we are. Literally.

Take, for example, our home’s electrical system. It serves as the “nervous system” of our houses, providing the power it needs to function efficiently. A home’s plumbing serves much like our own and even our insulation qualities are similar. Have you ever given thought to the fact that your home’s HVAC system serves as the lungs of your home?

For the most part, in extremes of heat and cold, we rely on our heating and air conditioning to provide us with clean, refreshing air. There are those few months in Crystal Lake and NW Chicago that we can shut it all off and open our windows but for the most part, we rely on our HVAC “lungs” to provide us with comfortable, safe, clean air to breathe.

There is a potential problem that can occur, however, particularly in colder weather. It is the issue of a carbon monoxide leak. A furnace carbon monoxide leak is a serious issue that takes diligence to prevent and expert technicians to diagnose and resolve.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless flammable gas that is created when the combustion of carbon is not completed. The biggest issue with carbon monoxide is that it is toxic, causing illness, brain damage and even death can occur.

How is Carbon Monoxide Produced?

Carbon monoxide is produced by anything that burns carbon as a fuel. This includes water heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, kerosene, gas heaters, wood stoves, and even clothes dryers. The more energy an appliance uses, the greater the risk of the carbon monoxide it can produce.

Why is it a Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because takes the place of oxygen in the bloodstream and prevents oxygen from getting to the heart, brain, and organs. When exposed to carbon monoxide in large amounts, humans can be overcome in just a matter of minutes. This can cause a person to lose consciousness and ultimately suffocate in a relatively short period of time.

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Family?

The best way to prevent yourself and family from carbon monoxide poisoning may be through the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. This will serve as a last line of defense in the event carbon monoxide levels in your home are becoming dangerous. There are steps you can take, however, to minimize your home’s carbon monoxide levels so they never reach the point of becoming dangerous.

  • Schedule an annual tune-up or maintenance check on your furnace. Most carbon monoxide issues develop over time and can be discovered and addressed by an annual maintenance check on your furnace. Many carbon monoxide issues develop gradually and can be prevented by these maintenance checks.
  • Change air filters often. As inexpensive and easy to change as air filters are, many homeowners simply forget or fail to change their air filters often enough. This can prevent fresh air from entering your furnace.  It also increases the risk of carbon monoxide production.
  • Make sure your furnace was installed correctly. It doesn’t matter whether your furnace was installed 10, 20 or 30 years ago, there may have been errors made in its installation. Poor ductwork, venting or blower installation can create carbon monoxide problems. They also may be inhibiting your furnace from operating efficiently. Standards are higher today. To make sure carbon monoxide is not an issue with your system, contact a professional.

Few things may be as frightening as the thought of a furnace carbon monoxide leak. We rely on our furnaces as a source of warmth and comfort. If it has been more than a year since you’ve had a furnace check-up, cleaning or tune-up, we would encourage you to schedule one today. Of course, we would call us at Althoff Industries. For over 50 years we’ve been keeping families safe and comfortable in NW Chicago. We would be honored to assist you.

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