Gas furnaces, well, any gas-burning system really, work with some pretty dangerous materials every time they start up. Byproducts of the combustion of natural gas include some extremely toxic gases, like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. The reason this isn’t a big deal most of the time is that gas furnaces are designed to safely dispose of these materials before they can harm anyone. However, there are a few cases where a malfunctioning gas furnace can pose serious safety risk. Let’s take a look at these issues, and how you can identify them. That way, you’ll know when to call a professional as soon as possible.
Blocked Exhaust Flue
The exhaust flue is a part that extends from the heat exchanger up through the exterior wall or roof of the house and out into the open air. It serves only one purpose: to remove those combustion byproducts which are dangerous to the home’s occupants. Once the combustion gases reach the open air outside, they quickly disperse and become harmless. If the exhaust flue becomes blocked in any way, however, things can get unsafe pretty quickly.
Normally, blockages in the exhaust flue are caused by debris of some kind being blown into the flue. On occasion, a bird may even build its nest in the vent. If the flue becomes blocked, it forces all of those gases back down into the furnace and out into the home.
Cracked Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger connects the burner assembly to the exhaust flue. It is responsible for both warming the air being circulated through the home and directing the combustion gases into the exhaust flue. As the warm air containing the combustion gases rises up from the burners, the heat radiates through the walls of the heat exchanger and into the home’s air supply. The gases remain trapped in the heat exchanger, and travel to the exhaust flue.
The problem that often occurs here is when the heat exchanger cracks, often from the stress of the heat it is exposed to over years of use. When this happens, there is a small chance that the combustion gases will escape into the air being circulated through the home.
It is important to remember that these problems only rarely occur, and only without regular maintenance to make sure the system is working properly. If you haven’t had your furnace checked in a while, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing to schedule an appointment. We provide professional heating services in the North Potomac area.