Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With Fall Comes the Turning on of Your Heating System. Are You Prepared?

As the days become shorter and we begin to see the changing of the foliage we all realize that fall is here.  With fall comes the turning on of your heating system.  Are you prepared?


When the temperature inside your house drops below the setting on the thermostat, fuel is delivered to the burners, ignited inside the combustion chamber. The flame is verified electronically and after a few minutes, the furnace blower fan turns on, pushing air through the cold air return vents.  This air is pulled through the furnace filter and past the furnace’s heat exchanger to warm it.  Then it’s circulated through the heating ducts into all part of your home.

Meanwhile, the toxic combustion by-products are vented out of your house through the furnace vent connector and vent.

When the temperature inside the house reaches the setting on the thermostat, the furnace shuts off automatically.  This process goes on and on throughout the heating season.

Your furnace is designed so the combustion by-products never enter the circulating air that warms your home.  The portion of the heating system through which this circulating heated air travels is entirely separate from the portion of the heating system in which the combustion process takes place and the combustion toxic by-products are vented from your home.

It is very important to make sure your furnace is safe to operate and is operating at its peak efficiency.

**** Hire a licensed qualified gas contractor to perform a tune-up of your furnace. ****

A professional tune-up is needed each heating season. This is not a DIY project! Most homeowners do not have the knowledge or specialized equipment to thoroughly test a furnace for correct operation.

Your furnace has built-in safety devices to prevent ignition if problems may occur. These safety devices are called limits. Modern furnaces have self-diagnostic electronic boards that help the service technician pin-point the trouble areas which lends to a quicker and correct repair.

Natural and liquid petroleum gases have odorants built in so you can smell a gas leak.  If you strongly smell gas, get out of the house and then call 911 to reach the fire department. Do not call from within your house because any spark could cause an explosion. They will come out or send out the gas company to shut off the gas.

If you know what appliance the gas is leaking from and the smell is faint, (for example; your furnace) cut off the gas supply to the furnace or appliance and call your contractor to come out and find and repair the leak. Open a few windows to ventilate the house.        

Each year carbon monoxide is suspected to cause 500 accidental deaths and over 15,000 Emergency Room visits each year.  At high levels, it can kill in just minutes. Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer.  Its symptoms often masquerade as other illnesses, like the flu.  Unless suspected, physicians are likely to overlook carbon monoxide as the source of the patient’s woes until it is too late.

If you own any fossil burning appliances, you should have carbon monoxide monitors installed. A low-level monitor that starts detecting CO at 5 PPM (part per million) and alarms you is highly recomended. A UL (Underwriters Laboratory) approved monitor detects CO at levels starting at 70 PPM for 4 hours of duration. This can be too much exposure for small children and older adults or people with sensitive immune systems.  The UL approved monitors (such as Kiddie) are sold at the big box stores and almost anywhere. They unfortunately do not give you the protection needed if you are in the categories above. They are far better than nothing and may keep you from dying, but not from becoming very ill in some cases.  You should have one monitor for each floor of your house. 

A quick note: If your house is all electric, but you have an attached garage, you should also by code have a CO monitor in your home. Many people start their cars in the garage and then walk away and let them run to warm up and that can release a lot of CO and toxic fumes in your home. (Most doors and garages are not air tight.)

All Seasons Heating and Cooling installs Low Level Carbon Monoxide Monitors.  Call us today, 757- 421-9790, to have your monitor installed. Please do not put this off, your health and safety will be at risk.