Beware of These Frightening HVAC Problems!
Halloween is just around the corner, so it’s time to get into the spirit of the spooky season with scary movies, ghoulish decorations, and creepy costumes. But while it can be lots of fun to revel in the scares that come from TV screens and rubber masks, most will agree that real-life scares aren’t quite as enjoyable. And as it turns out, some of the scariest things homeowners can face may be coming from the heart of their own house – the heating system.
This article will discuss three problems that can occur with heating and cooling systems that are scarier than any fictional boogeyman and their signs to help homeowners stay safe this Halloween and beyond.
Carbon Monoxide Leak
A carbon monoxide leak is arguably the most insidious and dangerous problem that can occur with a heating system. CO leaks are often caused by an incorrectly calibrated pilot light, faulty burner, leaky exhaust chimney, or other malfunctions with a gas or oil-burning furnace. However, they can also be caused by other fuel-burning appliances like gas ranges or water heaters.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that results from burning fuel, be it gas, wood, coal, or oil. Exposure to carbon monoxide can be deadly, particularly in high doses or over a prolonged period. Since it is virtually undetectable by the senses, it has earned the monicker, “the silent killer.”
Fortunately, homeowners can take steps to protect themselves and their families against carbon monoxide leaks. The first step is to install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home and test them regularly to ensure proper function. Next, homeowners should have their furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances routinely serviced by a qualified professional.
And finally, homeowners must be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and shortness of breath. If anyone in the house has these symptoms, everyone (including pets) should evacuate immediately and call their local emergency services. They should also seek medical attention if the symptoms persist after leaving the house.
The next HVAC issue to be on the lookout for is mold growth. Mold can take hold inside the home if the system isn’t properly removing moisture from the indoor air. But mold can also develop inside the HVAC unit itself. Air conditioners and some types of furnaces extract water vapor from the air by condensing it into liquid and draining it away. This can cause mold to grow in the condensate drain pan, drain line, or evaporator coils (particularly if they’re dirty). The moisture inside the units can also spread into the air ducts causing mold contamination and sending spores into the home.
While not quite as dangerous as carbon monoxide, mold can cause both acute and long-term illnesses, from respiratory irritation and allergy symptoms to infections in the lungs, so it is a very real threat to the health of everyone in the home. Fortunately, it’s much easier to detect than CO. If homeowners notice a persistent musty odor in the house, they likely have a mold infestation.
To prevent mold growth, homeowners can have their HVAC system inspected and cleaned as part of annual maintenance to ensure that the condensate is draining properly and moisture isn’t clinging to dirty coils or ducts. In some homes, investing in a whole-home dehumidifier may also be a good idea to keep moisture levels down.
Another frightening problem that’s all too common is an overheating furnace. A furnace can overheat due to poor airflow, like from a clogged air filter, dirt and dust on internal components such as coils or the blower motor, and mechanical or electrical malfunctions. These issues hinder the unit’s ability to properly ventilate heat, resulting in overheating.
There are several dangers of an overheating furnace. Apart from damaging the unit to the point that it may need to be replaced, overheating can cause stress cracks in the heat exchanger, which may allow carbon monoxide to leak out into the home. Overheating can also cause a furnace fire, which can spread quickly to the rest of the house or release smoke and toxic fumes into the air ducts.
The best ways to prevent furnace fires and the other risks associated with an overheating furnace are to replace their air filters regularly (every three months is a good baseline for most homes) and to schedule regular furnace maintenance with a professional.
It also pays to know the signs of an overheating furnace. A slight burning smell is normal when the system is first turned on for the season, but if it persists, it likely indicates overheating. A humming noise from the unit usually means the blower motor is straining against poor airflow or a mechanical fault. If the system frequently turns off or trips the breaker, it may be a thermocouple or limit switch shutting off the unit due to overheating. If homeowners notice these signs, they should immediately turn off the system and call their preferred HVAC service provider.
About Veteran Services
Veteran Services is a veteran-owned company serving Lakeville, MN residents and the surrounding areas for over 40 years. They offer financing, competitive pricing, and 24/7 emergency service. Call them today for furnace repair and tune-up services in Lakeville, MN.