During the winter, people want their homes to stay as cozy as possible, so they seal the warm air in tightly. It’s like living inside a bubble. You want the air circulating inside your home to be safe and clean, but if your furnace is dirty or doesn’t work properly, you could be creating an atmosphere of dangerous toxins.
What’s making you sick?
Your furnace contains a filter to trap dirt, allergens, pollen, spores, and whatever else might be floating around in the air. These toxic and dangerous airborne particles can turn your filter into a breeding ground for disease if the filter is not changed on a regular basis.
And if you or others in your home just got over a bout with the flu, then those germs are also stuck in your filter. The air coming out of your vents could be filled with germs and invisible hazards. It’s no wonder you feel sick.
Air cannot properly circulate through a dirty filter. You may be depriving your home of precious oxygen needed to make your body work properly. A lack of oxygen can give you headaches and make you feel worn-out and tired.
Another point to remember is some furnaces are powered by combustible gases like natural gas. The flue on the furnace is designed to contain these harmful gases and to trap the carbon monoxide produced from these gases. If the flue is clogged or contains leaks, then these toxic gases can escape into your home. Breathing in carbon monoxide will not just make you very sick, but it can be deadly.
What can you do?
It is very important to know how to maintain your furnace to keep you and your family safe and healthy. While furnaces require professional maintenance on a yearly basis, there are a few simple tasks you can do on your own to maintain your furnace. But remember, always turn off the heater before performing any maintenance.
1. Replace your dirty filter. Most home improvement stores carry a variety of replaceable furnace filters. Always read the instructions on the filter’s package. Some filters capture allergens, and some only trap dirt. The longevity on all filters can vary, too.
2. Keep a carbon monoxide monitor near your furnace and in your home to detect dangerous gases. These small devices save lives every year.
3. Inspect the flue of the furnace for leaks, holes, or corroded metal. Small leaks can be patched with aluminum tape, but it’s always best to let a professional take a look.
4. Vacuum in and around floor vents to eliminate excess dirt.
Now you are armed with the basic skills to maintain your furnace. Be sure to contact a furnace professional if you think your furnace needs more than routine maintenance. Your health depends on it.
Kim Wade is a freelance writer who writes about motherhood, blogging, and technology.