What Causes a Furnace to Leak Gas?

Although modern gas furnaces are safe, it is always a good idea to be ready in case something goes wrong. Understanding how furnace gas leaks happen and what to do about them can assist you in keeping yourself and your family safe if you ever encounter this issue. This article will take you through the basics you should know regarding furnace gas leaks.

What Triggers a Leak in a Gas Furnace?

Gas leaks might occur in your furnace’s gas supply line, although a damaged heat exchanger is usually the culprit. Typically, gas combusts inside a chamber within the heat exchanger, and the blower blasts air over it to gather up the heat before the air cycles through your ductwork. A damaged heat exchanger might let gas escape before combusting, unleashing toxic vapors into your house.

Overheating is the leading cause of a fractured heat exchanger. Excessive heat can arise from insufficient air circulation through the furnace. A filthy furnace filter, duct obstructions, ductwork that is too narrow, or a furnace and air handling unit too large for your home are all possible causes of limited airflow.

What Are the Symptoms of a Gas Leak?

Because natural gas has no odor, producers add mercaptan to give it a discernible stench. Mercaptan has a sulfurous odor comparable to rotten eggs. You may have a gas leak if you smell rotten eggs near your furnace, your ductwork, or anywhere else in your home.

Listening carefully to your furnace might sometimes help you detect a gas leak. Because the gas becomes pressurized inside the system, there may be a loud hissing noise near the leak as it exits. Houseplants are especially vulnerable to gas leaks, so keep looking for any withering plants in your house.

What Are the Health Consequences of Leaking Gas?

Furnace gas leaks emit dangerous compounds, like carbon monoxide, that can induce severe symptoms in those exposed. Headaches, dizziness, nausea, nasal irritation, and trouble breathing are the most frequent short-term signs of carbon monoxide exposure. Several milder symptoms of brief and less severe exposure will disappear if the afflicted individual leaves the environment.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also can induce exhaustion, memory and attention troubles, stomach and chest pain, vision problems, and a loss of motor function. You could experience skin and lip reddening, drowsiness, and even death in extreme exposure situations.

Why Do Heat Exchangers Crack?

Have you ever bent a paperclip and afterward tried to bend it back? How many times can you bend it before the paperclip snaps? Under excessive stress, metal will eventually shatter. Heat exchangers are likewise constructed of metal, albeit tougher than that in a paperclip, but they’ll also fail and shatter if stressed enough.

A furnace’s typical life expectancy is 15 to 18 years, and heat exchangers usually survive at least that long. However, some things shorten that longevity and leave you in need of a new furnace installation. Let’s consider a few.

An Insufficiently Sized Furnace

It’s critical to ensure that a furnace has been properly installed and calibrated. Oversized furnaces sometimes have short cycles because they heat a home too rapidly. A quick process is a brief burst of heat rather than a continuous one, indicating that the heat exchanger has cooled and warmed too rapidly. A trained HVAC technician may detect this problem and correct the situation.

Inadequate Airflow

Another mortal enemy of heat exchangers is a lack of ventilation. A clogged air filter typically causes this problem. Air cannot pass through if too much debris is clogging the filter. This means that heat cannot escape from your furnace to heat your house, and the furnace may overwork, straining the steel in the heat exchanger and creating fractures.

What to Do If You Think There’s a Gas Leak

Even if you don’t have any signs of gas or carbon monoxide exposure, you should act quickly if you detect a furnace gas leak. Turn off your HVAC system and avoid using matches or open flames. Open windows and doors to air your home, and leave it immediately. Call your gas provider and be sure the situation is safe before returning.

After you have addressed any emergency leaks and your house is secure to enter, you should have your furnace examined before turning it on again. A specialist can thoroughly inspect your system for leaks and conduct any necessary replacements or repairs.

Ensuring your Denver area home is secure from gas leaks is vital to your family’s safety. If you notice any of the warning signals mentioned above, reach out to our experts at Denver Pro Mechanical in Aurora. You can rely on our team of experts for comprehensive heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services, including installation, maintenance, and repair. Your comfort and safety are our professional mission. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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