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Can a Gas Furnace Become Dangerous?

furnace-oldIf you use a gas furnace to warm your house, you may have wondered if there’s a chance the furnace could become a hazard. The simple answer is “yes,” because that’s true for any use of natural gas.

However, this isn’t a reason to panic or immediately think of switching to a different type of heater. The chance of your furnace becoming dangerous is small, and with precautions you can keep it to almost nothing. The modern gas furnace is built with safety features and made to high standards to make them safe for homes—they wouldn’t be allowed in homes at all if they were routinely dangerous.

But how might a furnace become dangerous?

A gas furnace that isn’t regularly maintained will start to decay faster, and this wear can lead to problems such as gas leaks. One of the big concerns with an aging furnace that isn’t getting the routine care it needs is a cracked heat exchanger. Years of exposure of the metal in the exchanger to combustion gases can cause corrosion, and the corrosion will weaken the metal until it cracks. Toxic gases in the heat exchanger can then escape into the air that will end up sent into the house.

Another issue is a blocked flue. This is where the heat exchanger vents the remaining combustion gases once it’s finished heating the air. The gases escape up the flue and safely out of the house. If the furnace is venting poorly (which can also accelerate corrosion), the gases may be pushed back into the home. 

What you can do to keep the furnace running safely

The most important step for seeing that you have a safe furnace is to arrange for routine furnace service in Monroe, GA. Annual fall maintenance does several important jobs to keep away hazards. Technicians reduce the effects of wear and tear on components, clean the parts, and check to see that the furnace is venting properly. They inspect gas lines and gas valves. They examine the heat exchanger to see if there are signs of corrosion or cracks. If they can’t give the furnace a clean bill of health, they’ll recommend the repairs necessary to fix it so it’s ready for the winter. In case of an extremely old furnace or one that needs expensive repairs, they may recommend you have the furnace replaced. 

Make sure that the area around the furnace is kept clear, especially of anything that might be flammable, such as paint thinner. If you notice odd behavior from the furnace, which can include continual clicking sounds, a booming noise, or a change in the color of the burner flames from anything other than blue, shut off the furnace at the furnace switch and call us to look into it. Never delay with any repairs.

Finally, you must have carbon monoxide detectors in your house. These will alert you in case there are toxic gas leaks from the furnace. Leave the house if the detectors go off and first call the gas company. You can work with us later for the services necessary to keep the furnace safe.

At Snellville Heating, Air and Plumbing, Your Comfort Is OUR Business. Call us when you need heating assistance. 

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