Iff you have a natural gas furnace, or any type of fuel-burning appliance, regular professional maintenance can literally save your life.
A properly functioning gas appliance produces harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide, which are vented out of the house. But if a heat exchanger is cracked, a flue pipe is plugged or if the pilot light doesn’t have an adequate amount of oxygen, the natural gas won’t combust properly, causing deadly carbon monoxide (CO) to develop.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
When this colorless, odorless, tasteless gas is inhaled, it enters the bloodstream and robs blood cells of oxygen. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu -nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue – and long-term exposure can be fatal.
One way to check the “health” of a natural gas appliance is to look at the color of the pilot light. The flame should be at least 80 percent blue. If the flame is mostly yellow, it could be producing carbon monoxide – have the unit checked by a professional immediately. But remember that CO can be produced even if the pilot light is blue, so invest in an annual professional tune-up and follow the other preventive measures listed here.
To protect your family, invest in a high-quality carbon monoxide detector. Similar to a smoke detector, these electronic alarms alert you to dangerous levels of CO. Carbon monoxide is lighter than air and rises to the upper levels of your home, so install the detector close to bedrooms and living areas.