If 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
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.