All homes by law are required to have installed, functioning, smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is a hazardous and toxic gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste and can be fatal if exposed to it. Typically, carbon monoxide poses a threat to human life when heating appliances such as furnaces, water heaters or fireplaces lack necessary ventilation. It is mainly an issue with furnaces simply because of the amount of fuel it burns to provide heat to a home.


Why Carbon Monoxide Leaks Occur


Depending on the age of your furnace, and the number of routine maintenances checks you schedule for your HVAC unit, your heat exchanger may experience cracking or rusting when the heat exchanger inside of your furnace malfunctions. The gases that are usually filtered through are mixed in with the air inside of your home. The quality of your furnace determines how potent the leaks can be; newer & more efficient furnaces pose less of a threat to human health than older furnaces. However, the risk of carbon monoxide leaks is something that should be addressed immediately.


How Can I Tell If My Heat Exchanger Is Damaged?


You can usually tell if there is a problem with your heat exchanger based on the flames inside your furnace. If the flames appear to flicker this could imply that there is air within the furnace that is encroaching the area of your furnace where the fuel is combusted. If you notice irregularities inside of your furnace, you should contact your local HVAC specialists immediately for diagnosis and necessary reparations. If you notice that your carbon monoxide detector is beeping sporadically, it may be a more pressing concern than the batteries being low, and if you notice lightheadedness or nausea become frequent, it may be a sign that there is a gas leak.


When Should I Contact an HVAC Technician?


Upon suspecting that there may be a damaged heat exchanger in your furnace, you should contact your local HVAC technicians immediately. The danger that carbon monoxide leaks pose in small or large doses can get you very sick or can be fatal. An HVAC technician will diagnose your furnace and can provide you with photo evidence of your heat exchanger, and its current condition. If the heat exchanger shows any signs of wear or tears, it will need to be replaced immediately as it has the potential to worsen over time. Your HVAC technician may recommend to you that you replace your furnace, depending on the age of your unit and the existing warranty you have, you may be able to replace the heat exchanger.


Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide


  • Ensure Carbon Monoxide detectors are installed & functioning outside of every bedroom
  • Test Co2 detectors monthly
  • Schedule routine HVAC maintenance calls to ensure your furnace is functioning well
  • If you park your car in your garage: never leave it running!
  • Make sure there are Co2 detectors on every floor of your home
  • Never use your stove or oven to heat your home
  • If you use your fireplace, ensure the chimney is cleaned