Furnaces warm your family in the depths of winter, but they can also become serious health hazards when not properly maintained. Running your furnace while it’s broken or malfunctioning can pollute your home’s air in three different ways.
Failing to Filter
The furnace is equipped with your home’s main air filter. This is the filter responsible for trapping all the pollen, dust, pollution, and other contaminants entering the home from the outside world. When the filter is missing or out of place, it allows a lot of outdoor air pollution to become an indoor problem. This isn’t necessarily a life-threatening issue, but it can become one for family members with severe asthma.
Exhausting Dangerous Fumes
When the exhaust vent is blocked on your furnace or the fuel mixture is incorrect, fumes from the combustion process escape into the rest of your home instead of being safely vented outside. These fumes include carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that is deadly in sufficient concentrations. Even less deadly gas and oil fumes still increase your risks for cancer and other serious health problems after even short periods of exposure.
Adding Soot and Dust
Finally, a furnace that is burning too lean or too rich can create fine flakes of soot. That soot may float out into your ducts and the rooms of the home instead of being sucked away with the exhaust, resulting in a fine dust that is easily stirred up when you move through your home. This dust is often hard to pinpoint and very irritating to the sinuses and lungs.
Keep your furnace inspected and maintained to avoid all three of these problems. A furnace that runs well will improve your home’s air supply instead of contaminating it.