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How Your Gas Furnace Stays Safe

furnace-with-pipesHave you ever thought that your natural gas furnace might be dangerous? Or have you resisted the idea of even installing a gas furnace because you think it might create health hazards in your house?

You’re not alone: people are often concerned about gas-burning appliances in their homes because they could release carbon monoxide or cause explosions. However, modern natural gas furnaces are designed to run at high safety levels, and they have to pass many regulations in order to be permitted to work in homes. As long as you keep your furnace well-maintained and have it repaired promptly when anything seems wrong with it, there is little chance that it will create any dangers.

The safety measures in a furnace

The principle safety concern with a gas furnace is carbon monoxide (CO) leaks. CO is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas that results from the combustion of natural gas. High levels of exposure are lethal. However, furnaces are designed to vent carbon monoxide out of the house so your family isn’t exposed to it. This is done through the heat exchanger and the furnace flue. The heat exchanger is a metal chamber where the combustion gas collects from the burners. The hot combustion gas heats up the walls of the exchanger, which in turn heats up the air moving through the furnace. In this way, the carbon monoxide left over in the heat exchanger doesn’t contact the air that goes into the house. The natural gas is then sent out a flue that allows the CO to escape to the outside air.

A furnace is also equipped with a limit switch. This is a device designed to stop the furnace from overheating. The limit switch is positioned over the heat exchanger, and will shut down the gas line to the burners and the blower fan if the temperature inside the combustion chamber rises too high, which means flames are reaching too high.

Another important defense modern furnaces have is the mercury flame sensor. This device monitors the flames from the burners when the furnace is running. If the flames die down, or go out completely, it means unburned gas is escaping into the combustion chamber, which is dangerous. The flame sensor shuts off the gas flow in this case. For older furnace that use a standing pilot light to ignite the burners, a thermocouple does a similar job of shutting down the gas line in gas of the pilot light going out.

Finally, although they aren’t part of the furnace, they’re a necessary tool to have if you have a natural gas furnace, which are carbon monoxide detectors. In most jurisdictions, the law requires CO detectors in any homes that use natural gas in any capacity. CO detectors will alert you in case of a rise in carbon dioxide level so you can leave your house and call for assistance.

To arrange for service for your heating in Ridgewood, NJ, whether it’s a repair to keep your furnace safe or arranging to put in a new furnace to replace an old one, you only have to speak to one of our heating experts. We have NATE-certified technicians experienced with keeping a furnace running safely and effectively.

Advanced Mechanical Services offers service throughout the Tri-State Area.

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