Gas furnaces use natural gas to heat indoor air. During the combustion of natural gas, furnaces produce carbon monoxide, an invisible and odorless gas. Carbon monoxide and other exhaust fumes should be released outdoors through the flue vent. They shouldn't interact with the air inside your ductwork. Unfortunately, a leak in the system can cause exhaust fumes to leak into the air supply system and contaminate the indoor air. Therefore, follow these furnace maintenance tips to prevent gas leaks in your home.
Check the Gas Supply Lines and Fittings
The gas pipes that supply natural gas to your furnace should be in excellent condition at all times. Worn pipes and poor or degraded fittings can cause gas to leak from the pipes. If the supply line is located inside the home, the leak will contaminate the indoor air. Natural gas leaks are also dangerous as they can cause a fire. Therefore, inspect your gas supply lines and fittings for leaks. If you notice a hissing sound or a rotten egg smell around a gas pipe, there is a leak. Shut off the gas at the supply valve and contact a repair contractor immediately.
Inspect and Clean the Flue Vent
A flue vent is a pipe that extends from the furnace to the roof, chimney liner, or side of the house. This pipe releases exhaust gases outdoors and prevents them from contaminating the indoor air. A broken or degraded flue vent can cause gases to leak into the home. Unfortunately, unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide is odorless. Therefore, a leak can expose your household to health hazards. Inspect the flue vent for leaks and clean it to ensure proper exhaust of combustion gases. You can also install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to detect gas leaks when they occur.
Check the Heat Exchanger for Cracks
The heat exchanger is the component in the furnace that separates indoor air from exhaust gases. It transfers heat to the air without allowing exhaust fumes into the air supply system. If the heat exchanger is cracked, carbon monoxide and other gases will escape and mix with the indoor air. Consequently, the contaminated air will be delivered to your indoor spaces through the ducts.
Heat exchangers are strong and long-lasting. However, they can crack due to old age or poor maintenance. Therefore, if you have an older furnace, inspect this component regularly to prevent exhaust leaks. Also, clean the heat exchanger annually to clear out debris and soot from incomplete combustion.
Follow the above measures to protect your indoor air from contamination by natural gas and carbon monoxide. Contact a heating contractor for professional heating maintenance and repair.