Common Furnace Safety Malfunctions

Gas-powered furnaces have a bit of an unfortunate and unfair reputation as dangerous heating systems. Furnaces did once present numerous hazards, but that was decades ago. Current furnaces come equipped with numerous safety precautions to make them as benign as possible. As long as you maintain your furnace with yearly professional check-ups and prompt repairs, it should pose little danger to you or your family. However, malfunctions can still occur, and you should be aware of what can go wrong.

General Air Conditioning has put together a list of the more common malfunctions that can occur with a furnace that might make it unsafe. Whether it’s an emergency or not, General Air Conditioning can handle all your needs for heating repair in San Antonio, TX.

  • Thermocouple failure: The thermocouple is a device used to detect if the pilot light of a gas furnace is burning. A simple device made of two different pieces of metal joined at one end that increase in voltage as the heat around them rises. Should the pilot light go out, the voltage in the thermocouple will cease, which in turn will shut off the gas valve. This prevents unburned gas from flooding the combustion chamber and creating an explosive hazard. If a thermocouple fails, an HVAC professional will need to replace it to make sure it’s the right type and that it goes in correctly.
  • Cracked heat exchanger: Heat exchangers are metal chambers where the temperature from the combustion gas transfers to the air that blows from the furnace. If corrosion weakens a heat exchanger, it could cause cracks to appear, which will allow exhaust gas to escape: toxic carbon monoxide. Heat exchanger cracks need repairs immediately before more carbon monoxide can get out of the furnace cabinet.
  • Loose front panel door: You should never operate a furnace without its front-panel door securely in place, as this can allow carbon monoxide leaks. This panel can become loose without you knowing it. Many modern furnaces have a special safety switch that will automatically prevent operation if the panel comes loose. If this switch also malfunctions, or if you have an older furnace without this safety precaution, have repairs done immediately.

It’s a smart idea to have carbon monoxide detectors in your house—the gas is colorless and odorless, so it is difficult for humans to detect—that will inform you if there is a leak coming from the furnace. When this happens, shut off the gas to the house and call in an HVAC technician to see what malfunction in the furnace has caused the problem.

Stay safe with help from professionals; don’t try to investigate or fix furnace safety problems on your own. Call General Air Conditioning when you need experienced technicians who will put your safety first. We take pride in our history of heating repair in San Antonio, TX.

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