This is the time of year to be the most concerned. Furnaces are coming on and homeowners are burning wood in the fireplace to take the chill off the air.

It is time to make sure the furnace is safe. Check the heat exchanger for cracks or holes, clean and check the burners to make sure they are burning correctly and check the chimney for proper venting.

The heat Exchanger is where the burners ignite and a flame heats up the air. The heat exchanger is designed to be sealed and the gases will move up the chimney to be vented outside the building. If there is a crack or hole in the heat exchanger the gases will escape into the building.

The BURNERS need to be free of dirt and rust for proper burning. If the flame burns incorrectly sooting occurs, which could plug up the heat exchanger causing damage.

The VENT PIPE (CHIMNEY) A furnace, water heater, dryer and fireplace that has a flame needs to be vented properly as per the manufacturers specifications. When a flame burns there is a natural process of the combustion gases (carbon monoxide) heating up and rising up the chimney. If not vented correctly gases (carbon monoxide) will back draft into the building. Whether the application is double wall pipe (that vents through the roof), plastic pvc pipe (that vents out the side of the building) or a brick chimney, it needs to be free of soot, birds nest, collapsed caps or any other obstructions. Any holes or seperation from deterioration must be repaired to keep carbon monoxide from escaping into the building.

Carbon Monoxide is often called “The Silent Killer”. CO is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas

that at dangerous levels reduces the blood’s ability to circulate oxygen. There are many symptoms

of CO exposure including fatigue, nausea and chest pain.

All the things listed above are safety issues but also improves efficiency and longevity of equipment.


200 PPM Slight symptoms (headache, discomfort)

After several hours of exposure.

400 PPM Headache and discomfort experienced within 2-3 hours of exposure.

1,000-2,000 PPM Within 30 minutes slight palpitations of the heart occur. Within 1.5 hours,

there is a tendency to stagger. Within 3 hours there is mental confusion, headache, and nausea.

2,000-2,500PPM Unconsciousness within 30 minutes.

Above 2,500 PPM Potential for collapse and death before warning symptoms are produced.