You plan to use your furnace every day throughout the winter. However, if you haven't taken the time to properly maintain your furnace, then you may notice that your indoor air quality begins to suffer whenever you activate your furnace. Inspect your furnace for these three problems or look at sites like http://www.alliedairheat.com to determine whether or not you're in need of furnace repair or replacement:
Leaking Heat Exchanger
The metal heat exchanger inside your furnace transfers heat to the air that's blown through your combustion chamber. However, this isn't its only purpose—it also serves as an exhaust pipe for your furnace's burner assembly. Carbon monoxide and other dangerous combustion fumes produced by your burner assembly waft through your heat exchanger and out of your home through a flue.
Your heat exchanger is susceptible to metal fatigue. Metal fatigue occurs throughout your heat exchanger as a result of the expansion and contraction of the exchanger's metal surfaces. After expanding and contracting over several years, the metal will crack and allow combustion fumes to leak into your air ducts and throughout your home.
A cracked heat exchanger is harmful to the health of you and your family members because it will allow carbon monoxide to accumulate inside your home while your furnace is active. Once carbon monoxide reaches a concentration of 70 ppm (parts per million) or higher, it will cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or even death.
However, cracks in your heat exchanger will start out very small and grow over time. Detecting the initial cracks in your heat exchanger can be an extremely difficult task without first removing your exchanger from your furnace. For this reason, it's best to have your heat exchanger inspected by an HVAC technician every year to avoid carbon monoxide inhalation.
If your burner assembly doesn't receive a sufficient amount of airflow, which can happen when your burner tubes are filled with soot buildup, your burners won't be able to ignite all the gas being delivered to your furnace. When this happens, your burner assembly's temperature will drop. At this point, your thermocouple will shut off the gas supply to your furnace—if it's still intact.
Your thermocouple can fail for several reasons, but, similarly to your heat exchanger, metal fatigue is usually the culprit. When your thermocouple can no longer monitor the temperature of your burner assembly and shut off the gas supply to your furnace, unspent gas can collect in your home and cause the same symptoms as carbon monoxide poisoning. However, unspent gas is even more dangerous because it can cause an explosion when it finally encounters an ignition source.
Filthy Air Filter
Your air filter is designed to trap the airborne debris present inside your home. However, when it collects a significant amount of debris, its pores will become clogged. A clogged filter will decrease the quality of your indoor air when the airflow through your filter becomes so restricted that your blower motor begins pulling dirt, dust, and allergens through the pores of your filter.
Luckily, replacing your air filter is a simple task. Locate the side of your blower compartment that's connected to your return duct. Open the access panel on your compartment and pull your filter out from the side connected to your duct. Wipe away any debris buildup inside your compartment to slow the rate at which your replacement filter becomes dirty. When the compartment is clean, slide a compatible replacement filter into place and close your access panel.
If your furnace is suffering from one or more of these issues, then keep it deactivated until you can perform or arrange for the necessary repairs. If you continue to use your furnace while these issues are present, you risk the well-being of you and your family members.