Can My Old Heater Kill Me?

An old furnace can be a serious headache—both literally and figuratively. Older furnaces are unreliable and inefficient, meaning that they can eat up a lot more energy for the same amount of heating as a newer heater. More energy usage also means higher electric bills.

The United States Energy Department warns against using an old furnace, and even Time Magazine notes that installing a new energy efficient furnace can be a real money-saver.

However—even more importantly—with a continuous pilot light and a poor exhaust system, older HVAC systems can also be extremely dangerous.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, residential heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires in the United States, second only to cooking accidents. They also noted that the main factor in heating fires was simple: failure to properly clean and maintain the equipment as it got older.

Over 30,000 furnaces were recalled in 2001 because of the high fire risk that they posed. Old furnace filters can compromise your system, and any dust or buildup near the furnace could easily cause a fire.

The “invisible killer”

Another serious danger in old furnaces is the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

As furnaces get older, the heat exchanger can rust or crack, leaking carbon monoxide. Old or clogged vents and chimneys can also cause carbon monoxide to leak into homes.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) clearly warns against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and urges families to carefully inspect their heating systems.

Called the “invisible killer” by organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide is impossible to detect with the naked eye.

It’s colorless and odorless, and symptoms can often be too subtle to immediately detect. At first, carbon monoxide poisoning causes common symptoms like headache, nausea, or fatigue. However, it also builds up in blood over time, and can ultimately lead to loss of motor control and death.

According to fire officials, an estimated 400-450 people die each year in the United States alone due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

So, what can you do about it?

If your furnace is nearing the end of its lifespan—usually around fifteen years—it’s time to replace.

Call Zierman Plumbing today, and we’ll be happy to work with you to find the best heating system that meets your home’s needs as well as your budget. However, if your system is relatively newer, it’s still important and safe to have your system evaluated and cleaned.

The CPSC recommends an annual HVAC service, at the very least. Our HVAC specialists are able to carefully inspect your system, remove any debris, ensure that the exhaust system is properly working, and inform you of any necessary repairs.

They also thoroughly clean your system, and make sure that it’s operating at the desired temperature.

Lower your energy bills and keep your family safe

There’s no reason to continue to pay extra money on your energy bills because of an old system, and certainly no reason to put yourself, your family, and your home at risk for fire due to an old furnace—not to mention the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Call Zierman today for a FREE estimate!