Carbon Monoxide Detector

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How To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Build-Up In Your Home From Your Furnace?

By Jan Kukler on November 28, 2013

Every year there are an estimated 75, 000 to 85, 000 average non-fire, carbon monoxide-related calls to local fire departments in North America. The number of such calls has risen steadily over the last several years. This is likely due to an increasing number of carbon monoxide detectors being installed in North American homes. It also indicates a greater awareness on the part of home owners about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It is produced as a by-product of the burning of a number of types of fuel. This includes methane, gasoline, coal, oil, natural gas, propane and wood. It is highly toxic and especially dangerous since it can be present in the air and cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detector. That's why this gas is often referred to as "the silent killer." Unfortunately, a human being can be overcome by CO fumes without ever realizing there is a problem. Exposure is often fatal.

How does a Furnace Produce Carbon Monoxide?

All non-electric furnaces use some type of fuel to create heat that is then distributed throughout the home or building. The most common type of non-electric furnace is fueled by natural gas. Oil is another but less common home heating fuel.

A furnace that is functioning properly and optimally produces only very low levels of carbon monoxide. These CO fumes usually get vented to the outdoors so they don't cause a problem.

However, a unit that is not performing as it should be can produce increased levels of CO. If the furnace is not venting 100% of the gases it produces to the outside, the level of carbon monoxide will build up in the house. These gases can flow into your house through a cracked heat exchanger, or directly out of your furnace if the vent is plugged, or there is too little air for proper combustion to take place which causes the flame to "roll out" of the combustion chamber.

A dirty burner: This is the part that uses a mix of fuel and air to produce the heat that is then blown through the house or building. If the burner gets clogged and dirty it can lead to excess CO production. The flames on a burner should look blue, if the flame looks yellow, the burners may be dirty and require cleaning or adjustment.

A cracked heat exchanger: The heat exchanger is the part that ensures that heat blows into the vents in your building. At the same time, it vents harmful gases like CO to the outdoors. If your heat exchanger cracks it will blow those gases indoors rather than outdoors where they pose serious danger to the people inside. Unfortunately it is almost impossible for a home or building owner to know whether the heat exchanger is cracked. Only a professional furnace technician will be able to examine this crucial part of your heating system.

Poor ventilation: Sometimes vents can get clogged with debris. This, in turn, inhibits their ability to vent harmful gases to the outdoors. Instead, gases may build up inside.

Home and building owners can do a few things to ensure that carbon monoxide is not collecting indoors. The easiest is to purchase and install a CO detector. These are small devices similar to smoke detectors. They detect the presence of this deadly gas and will sound an alert if build-up reaches potentially dangerous levels.

Home owners should also be vigilant about having their furnace serviced regularly. Since it takes a professional HVAC service provider to detect problems like a cracked heat exchanger, a lack of regular service could be disastrous.

Every furnace requires a certain amount of air for proper combustion to take place and for proper ventilation. This air is called "combustion air". A combustion air supply may be supplied by a pipe within a few feet of the furnace that directly brings fresh air to it or a small opening in the discharge air ductwork of the furnace. Never block off the combustion air source for a furnace, doing so could be fatal.

Jan Kukler is a Certified Journeyman Refrigeration Mechanic & owner of JAVA Heating & Air Conditioning, a Maple Ridge furnace service provider located in Maple Ridge (Vancouver), BC.

Original article published on SooperArticles.com

Next page: Carbon Monoxide Co Detector


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