How to Handle Carbon Monoxide Leaks from Your Furnace

The furnace is a crucial component for any home because it provides heat during the cold season. However, like many things, a furnace can fail from time to time. Many issues can occur with a furnace, but one of the more pressing matters is a carbon monoxide (CO) leak.

A furnace that’s leaking carbon monoxide can be deadly to your family, particularly if you have small children or pets. Fortunately, there are warning signs you can look out for that will alert you to this problem.

This article will discuss everything there is to know about carbon monoxide leaks and how you can fix them. Read on below to get started.

How to Tell If You Have a Carbon Monoxide Leak

It’s worth noting that internal problems within the furnace cause a carbon monoxide leak. These include:

  • The flue isn’t properly attached to the chimney
  • The gas valve is faulty
  • The pilot light is out
  • The furnace’s fan is faulty
  • The filter is clogged
  • The flue is damaged

So, if your furnace isn’t producing heat, don’t immediately assume that there’s a leak in the system. There might be another problem, like a blown fuse or the thermostat is not sending the furnace the correct signal.

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas produced from any fuel-burning device, including your furnace. It’s odourless and colourless, making it difficult to detect. This means the only way to tell if you have a carbon monoxide leak is to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide in the air can result in:

  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

In severe cases, it can also result in:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Cognitive problems

Installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It’s recommended that you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home to help minimize exposure. Carbon monoxide detectors are affordable and easy to install, so you should invest in a few for your home. They shouldn’t be placed near a window because the pollutant itself is cold and dense.

Typically, you can install one of these anywhere in your home. If you’re concerned about it being damaged in the event of a fire, you can mount it near the ceiling to ensure the ceiling’s structure protects it.

Be sure to purchase an alarm that’s specifically designed for carbon monoxide, not just a smoke and CO2 alarm. The detectors should also be placed near each sleeping area, all the major appliances, and the furnace. Even some carbon monoxide detectors are designed to be placed outside to detect leaks in your water heater or fireplace.

Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks from the Furnace

Here are some ways to prevent CO leaks from your furnace:

Conduct Regular Furnace Inspection

It’s essential to have your furnace inspected annually. Your local HVAC professional will perform a thorough inspection of your furnace and make sure it will run safely for the upcoming cold months. This is crucial because the furnace is one of the most critical components in the home.

Be sure to have your furnace serviced each year so that it can operate at full capacity every season.

Avoid Venting CO into the Chimney

One of the biggest causes of CO leaks is when the furnace is vented into the chimney. While the furnace will still produce CO even when it isn’t vented into the chimney, it will reduce the amount of CO you breathe in because the flue will carry the exhaust away.

To ensure this happens, you will ensure the furnace is installed correctly. If you notice that it’s not properly vented, contact a professional to fix it.

Have the Furnace Installed in a Mechanical Room

When you have the furnace installed in a mechanical room, you will control the airflow more efficiently. This means that air venting out will be cooler, which will help reduce the amount of CO that enters your home.

It’s recommended that the mechanical room be at least thirty-six inches off the ground. If you’re not able to do this, then the exhaust pipe should be at least 6 feet from the ground.


Carbon monoxide leaks are a serious problem, but they’re also an avoidable one when you install carbon monoxide detectors and follow proper furnace installation guidelines, as well as maintenance. Your home will be a safe environment for you and your family when you do.

Legacy Heating provides top-quality services for furnace maintenance in Calgary and Edmonton. Our team of experienced furnace specialists will ensure that your furnace is safe to use, all for an affordable price. Contact us today to book an appointment!

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