As the weather gets colder, you rely on your furnace to stay warm. Over time, you may begin to worry about the safety of your furnace and potential leaks. Preventing leaks is a huge part of keeping your home and family safe. Be on the lookout for gas leaks and have peace of mind while staying warm all season.

How Your Furnace Works

A furnace is an appliance found in many homes that takes in cool air and heats it before sending it back out through the vents to warm a room. Your furnace attempts to heat the air in a room to the temperature set on the thermostat by heating that air in a safe and efficient way. There are many fuel sources available for home furnaces, and natural gas is one common fuel option. Your natural gas furnace uses combustion to make the air warm enough to meet the desired temperature.

The gas furnace is a system of parts that heats and ventilates air safely throughout your home. Forced-air central heating systems usually use natural gas as a heat source. A burner, heat exchanger, ventilation pipes, and ductwork all come together to create an efficient system, pushing air through the house. The coils in the heat exchanger heat up with help from the burner, and the gas is burned to create heat. The coils absorb and transfer the heat from one place to another. Heated air is ventilated in the pipes and transferred through the ductwork. After all of this is done, you can enjoy warm, clean air in every room of your home.

What Causes a Leaking Gas Furnace?

Gas leaks may come from the gas line or valve connected to your furnace. However, a more likely reason for your furnace to leak gas is a cracked or broken heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is one of the major parts of your furnace, operating as a chamber for the gas to live before it is heated and sent through the vents. If the heat exchanger is cracked open, the gas can escape before combustion and pollute the air in your home. Other problems that can cause a gas leak are restricted airflow, build-up on the filters, or blockages in the ducts.

Staying Safe With a Gas Furnace

There are many moving parts in your gas furnace, and they need to be in tip-top shape to keep the air in your home cozy and clean. A leaking furnace can be a fatal problem and must not be ignored. Many detrimental problems can come from a leaking gas furnace.

  • Potential fire hazard
  • Dangerous fumes in the air
  • Higher gas bills
  • Serious illness or hospitalization

A leaking furnace can contaminate the air in your space with carbon monoxide. Many people know this odorless and colorless gas can be incredibly dangerous, but it can be easy to forget about it. Whenever fossil fuels are burned, this gas is emitted and should be ventilated out through your furnace’s ventilation pipes.

However, if your furnace is leaking, there could be carbon monoxide slipping through the cracks and making its way into your everyday air supply before you notice. A gas leak can also be a very dangerous fire hazard since gas is combustible when mixed with air in some circumstances. It is better to be safe than sorry and prevent these problems if and when you can.

How to Tell if Your Furnace Is Leaking Gas

If you feel like your furnace may be leaking gas, you may be able to tell by smells, physical reactions, or sounds coming from the furnace. Confusion, dizziness, headaches, and nausea are all signs that you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you or a family are experiencing potential symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

You may also be experiencing a gas leak if there is a sulfur-like smell lingering in your home. The smell may also be reminiscent of rotten eggs. This is due to another gas called mercaptan being mixed into the natural gas used for your furnace. If there is a gas leak, you’ll smell the mercaptan and know right away that you need to call for help.

Your furnace may also have a hissing sound if it is leaking. The sound of gas slipping through cracks or holes won’t go away on its own, so you should never ignore it. If you have any of these issues, it is best to turn off the gas and contact a professional immediately to come out and repair it.

What to Do if You Have a Gas Leak

As soon as you realize your furnace is leaking gas, you should try to turn the gas off. Stopping the gas from the very start can minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or other health risks from breathing in noxious fumes. Open windows and doors to ventilate the area further and avoid using flammable objects such as candles or lighters while inside the space. Once you turn off the gas and start ventilating the area, immediately contact a professional for help and evacuate to a safe place. Gas leaks are typically an emergency call and can be handled quickly. A professional technician will inspect the system for leaks and replace or repair it as needed. Before using your furnace again, you may want to have it inspected one more time to be safe.

Ways to Prevent a Leaking Furnace

Dealing with a leaking furnace can be a scary experience, so you want to do your best to prevent it from happening again. Change your air filter every few months to keep gasses from backing up in the system. Schedule an annual maintenance check and cleaning. That ensures that any damaged parts are replaced, and that air flows freely through the environment. To further protect yourself from future leaks, we recommend that all of our customers invest in one or more carbon monoxide detectors. We are happy to recommend the type that is most appropriate for you and install it in your home.

We’re Here to Help

When you call in the professionals from Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, you can have peace of mind knowing your furnace is in the best hands. We offer furnace replacements, repairs, and maintenance, and our team is here to answer all of your questions about your furnace in Troutdale, Oregon, or Vancouver, Washington. Since 1984, we have been known for our thorough and professional work, providing a range of skills from residential to commercial services. Our team is committed to quality customer service and constant support with plumbers on call 24/7 and honest prices, so you can feel at ease knowing you will never be surprised with a hidden fee. Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is dedicated to providing quality service for all your needs, including water heater, AC, and heating repair and installation, sewer line inspection and replacement, drain cleaning, clogged pipes, and indoor air quality issues. Contact Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning today for more information or to schedule a service.

Meet the Author
Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird

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