How To Tell If Your Furnace Is Leaking Carbon Monoxide

Posted on February 20th, 2021 by Bill Stuhr

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a natural byproduct of burning natural gas in your furnace. When properly installed and maintained, your heating system will vent the tasteless, odorless gas safely outside your home. But if something goes wrong and carbon monoxide leaks into your home, you can develop carbon monoxide poisoning, the results of which can be devastating.

The lesser symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often resemble flu like symptoms. They include weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and confusion. However, carbon monoxide poisoning can also lead to a loss of consciousness, irreversible brain damage, and even death. So for your safety and that of your family, it’s essential that you understand how to tell if your furnace is leaking carbon monoxide.

Because the gas is both odorless and tasteless, you won’t be able to detect a leak without some help. Installing a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace is the best way to catch leaks from your furnace before they become an issue.

How Far Should Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Be From Your Furnace?

You should install a CO detector 5 – 20 feet from your furnace. It’s also a good idea to install additional detectors near any other fuel burning appliances you may have, such as gas stoves or fireplaces. For complete protection, you should also install a detector outside bedrooms or sleeping areas. Many carbon monoxide detectors also serve as smoke detectors, providing you with two forms of protection.

Warning Signs of Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Although you should always have a carbon monoxide detector near any gas burning appliances, there are other signals that can clue you into a leak.

• Rising Gas Bills

If your gas bill has been climbing in recent months, it’s possible that your furnace is leaking. Call an HVAC professional, like the experts at Five Star Heating & Air to assess the situation. When there’s a leak, we’ll identify the problem and provide you with a variety of possible solutions. It’s also possible that your rising bills are just a sign of an aging furnace, in which case we can help you update it to a newer, more efficient model.

• New Noises or Smells

Although carbon monoxide is odorless, leaks often include other gasses which may have scents you would notice. If you catch a whiff of sulfur or rotten eggs coming from your utility room, you should contact a heating professional immediately. Similarly, if you hear new noises coming from your furnace, that could signal any number of issues that require immediate attention.

• Yellow Pilot Lights

Gas furnaces rely on a pilot light to ignite the fuel that heats your home. This small flame should always burn blue. Yellow or flickering flames can be a sign of a carbon monoxide leak. Again, call an HVAC technician to solve the problem as soon as you notice it.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Regular HVAC maintenance is the best way to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Our 5 Star Maintenance program makes it easy to save on maintenance for both your heating and cooling systems. If your technician identifies an issue, they can often solve the problem on the spot, protecting your family from any potential dangers.

Should you need more serious furnace repair in Palatine or elsewhere in the Chicago area, we can help with that, too. Our expert technicians are ready and waiting to help with any heating or cooling issues you may have. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment so we can make sure your HVAC system is running both safely and efficiently.

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