That depends entirely on your definition of “dangerous.” If, by dangerous, you mean that gas furnaces produce dangerous materials, then yes. If, on the other hand, you mean that gas furnaces are a threat to your health, then no. At least, not without some very serious problems at work. Gas furnaces produce what are called “combustion gases,” which are very dangerous to your health. However, gas furnaces are also equipped with everything they need to dispose of those gases safely. So, unless something is seriously wrong with your furnace, it should be perfectly safe. Let’s examine the properties of combustion gases, and how you can avoid exposing yourself to them.
All combustion systems utilize what is called “incomplete combustion.” They are incapable of converting all of the fuel they burn into heat. There will always be waste materials left over from the burning process. In the case of gas furnaces, those waste materials are combustion gases.
The three main combustion gases are nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. All three of these gases are extremely toxic to humans, and can even be fatal in large enough amounts. The furnace it built to vent these gases out of the house and into the open air, where they can disperse. There are some issues that can prevent the gases from venting properly, however, which is where things get dangerous.
Gas Venting Problems
Normally, combustion gases rise up from the burner and into the heat exchanger with the rest of the heat. Here, the heat radiates through the walls of the heat exchanger and into the air being circulated. Meanwhile, the combustion gases keep travelling up and into the exhaust vent, where they are released out into the open air.
There are two main issues that can stop the gases from venting properly. The first is a blocked exhaust flue, while the second is a cracked heat exchanger. A blocked exhaust flue can occur when debris is blown into the vent, or even when animals or birds build nests in it. This forces the gas back down and out into the home.
A cracked heat exchanger is usually something that occurs over years. The heat exchanger expands and contracts with the heat flowing through it, but eventually the stress can cause the exchanger to form small cracks. Combustion gases can sometimes leak out through these cracks and into the air being circulated, which is very dangerous to the home’s occupants.
The best way to stop these issues from occurring is to have regular preventive maintenance conducted. If you haven’t had your gas furnace inspected in a while, schedule and appointment with Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. We provide professional gas furnace services in the Farmington, NM area.