This article was crafted with the help of Casteel Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas. Because it can’t be seen, tasted, or smelled, carbon monoxide begins to affect people before they’re even aware of its presence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that several thousand people are taken to the emergency room each year because of carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the leading causes of carbon monoxide poisoning inside the home is fuel from a gas furnace. If the furnace’s heat exchanger is cracked, gas will seep into the home, possibly raising the amount of carbon monoxide in the air to unhealthy levels.

Many homeowners install carbon monoxide detectors in order to be alerted to such a problem, but vice president of Casteel Heating & Cooling, Inc., John Hillis notes that adverse effects can manifest at levels below those that register on most alarms:

“People say, ‘I’ve got a carbon monoxide detector in my home, so I’m safe.’ But those detectors only rate at 70 to 80 parts per million of carbon monoxide. A family can be made sick by as little as 20 parts per million. And it may stay at that low level throughout the day because the furnace isn’t running continuously; it’s turning on and off. So a family might feel lethargic or have headaches and not consider that they could have a crack in their heat exchanger.”

Because of this danger, Casteel Heating & Cooling takes heat exchanger cracks seriously. They use an infrared detection system to test for carbon monoxide leaks coming from a home’s furnace. The system works by providing the technician with a microscopic view of the heat exchanger and the condition of its metal surface. While most of the time a technician can visually spot a crack, Hillis stresses that the only way to know for sure is to use an infrared detection system: “You can always check for a crack with your eyes, and you may feel like you’ve made the right diagnosis, but with the infrared technology and its small camera heads you can actually prove and validate your diagnosis. That’s why we use it, and few companies in Georgia have that capability.”

Hillis advises homeowners to get their furnaces fully tested for performance, not just visually inspected, once per year. “It’s estimated that 25 percent of homeowners have a crack in their heat exchanger,” says Hillis. “Still, people are not getting their units tested and serviced. With 25 percent of them out there cracked, people have got to take that seriously.”

This article was crafted with the help of Casteel Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical, an Atlanta expert in Air Conditioning & Heating. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.

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