Carbon monoxide leaks from a furnace are highly toxic, and using your furnace without knowing you have one can be very dangerous. Many people think if they shut their furnace off, they are safe from the fumes it could release, but this is not always the case. When your furnace’s heat exchanger cracks, you need immediate assistance to deal with the harmful gasses it omits. 

Can a furnace leak carbon monoxide when turned off? Read on to learn how to detect this dangerous gas from your furnace and what to do about it. Leith Heating & Cooling, Elgin’s trusted furnace company, can help you deal with this troubling situation and keep your home safe. 

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (or CO) is a gas made from one atom of carbon and one of oxygen and is often difficult to notice. Looking out for this odorless and colorless gas is even more important to keep everyone who enters your home safe from the fumes. Engines and machines that burn fuel can give off CO, but large amounts can lead to dizziness, fatigue, or death.

Appliances that burn fuel can give off small levels of carbon monoxide. However, systems that are 15 years or older, experiencing frequent problems, or are situated in enclosed spaces can create dangerous levels of carbon monoxide or experience leaks. Unusual smells suggest internal components are overheating or other gasses alongside CO are coming out of the appliance.

You need proper ventilation in your home to draw out the carbon monoxide and prevent you and your family from breathing it in. Get in touch with an HVAC technician to inspect your furnace and ensure it is safe to use. A professional might suggest a more updated replacement for your property. 

Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Yes, carbon monoxide is dangerous, and there are many symptoms of exposure. It only takes five minutes after breathing it in to make you feel sick and dizzy. Carbon monoxide can cause blurry vision, difficulty concentrating and breathing, headaches, weakness, fatigue, and death. 

Can a furnace leak carbon monoxide when turned off? Your furnace needs to be on to burn fuel that releases CO. However, carbon monoxide can travel throughout your home via your HVAC system, so it can still create a dangerous situation even when your furnace is off.

You need to immediately leave your home and contact a skilled professional to deal with a furnace carbon monoxide leak. If you or your loved ones experience any of the signs of CO poisoning, seek medical attention right away. Never delay in addressing carbon monoxide leaks because they could be fatal.

Signs Your Furnace Has a Carbon Monoxide Leak

While carbon monoxide leaks are hard to detect, there are some clear indicators you can keep an eye out for. If you have any suspicion that your furnace has a CO leak or experience any of the following scenarios, contact an HVAC professional immediately. Getting help from trained professionals is the safest and most effective way to resolve furnace problems and to keep occupants of the property safe from harm.

1. Burning or Overheating Odor

Odd smells can mean your furnace is struggling and overheating. The toxic gas could be coming out of your unit without you knowing. While furnaces have a burning smell during operation, it usually is internal and undetectable from the outside.

If you’re getting a whiff of something burning while your furnace is on, leave your property. You likely have a furnace leak and should limit your exposure as much as you can. Evacuate everyone from your residence and immediately call for support. 

2. Smoke or Soot Near the Home

Seeing smoke and soot around your home suggests a carbon monoxide leak. Soot can easily catch fire and burn down your home. Therefore, immediate detection of these substances means you need to leave the building. You don’t want to wait until these issues worsen.

3. Brown or Yellow Stains

Yellow or brown stains may appear when carbon monoxide is leaking from your furnace. You shouldn’t expect to see any noticeable stains when your furnace is running normally. Also, having a yellow pilot light in your furnace suggests it is burning incompletely. Pilot light flames should be blue. 

4. Moisture Near Windows and Walls

Your furnace might have excess water on its nearby walls or windows if a carbon monoxide leak is present. 

The Importance of Furnace Maintenance

Furnace maintenance is essential to having your unit operate at its highest capacity. Furnace technicians will inspect your systems in great detail to catch any concerns before they transition into major problems. They can make minor repairs, fix leaks, and clean dirt and debris from your furnace, ensuring it is in better condition than before. 

Preventing Furnace Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Having a working carbon monoxide detector is important for every home. This should also be a part of your household maintenance for safety. Be sure to change your air filter periodically to avoid dirt buildup, improve your home’s indoor air quality, and ensure your furnace will work properly.

You must make sure a professional HVAC company installs your furnace and performs repairs. Hiring just anyone means you are compromising on the condition, performance, and effectiveness of your heating system. You are also putting your safety at risk because CO leaks can occur.

Call Us for Trusted Furnace Repair Services in Elgin, IL 

Now that you know the answer to, “Can a furnace leak carbon monoxide when turned off?” consider Leith Heating & Cooling to answer any of your other related HVAC questions. We have helped many Illinois residents with their residential heating and cooling needs. We carry the top brands in the industry and use reliable techniques to resolve appliance issues.

Learn why your furnace might be leaking water and how to improve the efficiency of your existing system. Call Leith Heating & Cooling at 847-648-9977 or contact us online for furnace installation, repair, or maintenance in Elgin, IL.

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