Monday, 15 January 2018

Carbon Monoxide and Gas Smells

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is colourless and odorless in its pure chemical state.

Some people may think that if they smell something from a gas appliance, that there is no danger from carbon monoxide. The reality is far different. When CO is being produced by an improperly vented appliance there will be other smells.

People need to be aware that if they are smelling something coming from their, furnace, boiler, hot water heater, gas fireplace or whatever there is a very real danger.

To keep your family safe from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, take the following two important steps:

  1. Invest in CO detectors. You should have them installed in every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  2. Don’t skip on annual maintenance for your gas furnace or gas boiler. When we visit your home, in addition to servicing your equipment, we check for CO levels. A furnace can produce unsafe levels of CO in your home if it is not properly vented or if a heat exchanger has cracked. This is not something most homeowners are going to find on their own.

If you notice unusual smells around any gas appliance, play it safe and call a professional.

Changing Furnace Filters

How Often Should You Change Your Furnace Filter?

The frequency at which you change your filter depends on two main factors.

The first consideration are factors that contribute to a dirty filter. The number of people in the house, pets, carpets, how often you vacuum and the age of the house all contribute to the amount of dust and particles in the air. If you have a couple of kids and a dog, you’ll probably need to change your filter more frequently than a retired couple with no pets.

The second consideration is the size and type of the filter. Generally, older furnaces will have a filter that’s 1" thick. These filters can be flat or pleated. Pleated filters have more surface area and tend to last longer than flat filters. A 1" thick filter should be checked every 6 weeks and the frequency adjusted according to what you find. If it is really dirty you will want to replace it more frequently. If it still appears clean then wait a couple more weeks. At a minimum, 1" filters should be changed twice in the cooling season and twice during the heating season.

Newer furnaces may have a 4" thick filter that has an accordion (pleated) design. This provide much more surface area for catching dust and does not have to be changed as frequently. The minimum replacement schedule would be annually. We recommend that you check it before the air conditioner goes on in the spring and again when the furnace is going to start up in the fall. As with the 1" filter you may have to increase the replacement frequency if you have a busier household.

It is important to note that your air conditioner requires a clean filter so that it does not freeze up. Air has to be moving freely to prevent that from happening. Clean filters allow your equipment to run more efficiently, and to maintain a healthy environment.

Checking and changing filters is an easy task that most homeowners can do themselves. If you are not sure how to change your furnace filter, just ask our serviceman when you are having your annual maintenance done.

Salmon Plumbing & Heating, serving London, Ontario since 1955.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Carbon Monoxide Detectors are Now Mandatory

As of October, 2014 CO Detectors (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) are mandatory in all residential homes. Carbon Monoxide can kill you. It is created when fuels are not properly burned. Common fuels around the home that can produce carbon monoxide include:

  • Natural Gas
  • Propane
  • Heating Oil, Wood, Coal, Kerosene, Charcoal, Gasoline

Anything that burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide if it is not running properly or not vented properly. Common household appliances that can produce carbon monoxide are:

  • Natural Gas Furnaces
  • Natural Gas Boilers
  • Natural Gas Hot Water Heaters
  • Fireplaces, Wood Stoves, Barbecues, Kerosene Heaters, Gasoline Engines

The CO Detector should be placed inside or near primary sleeping areas. You should have a detector installed on each level of your home. CO Detectors are available from your local hardware store. They are easily installed by homeowners. Normally a CO Detector needs to be replaced every 10 years. Batteries in CO Detectors should be replaced annually.

The following is a list of physical and environmental indications of Carbon Monoxide:

  • Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness that will improve when you have left the house for a period of time.
  • People with heart or respiratory conditions, the elderly and children are particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide.
  • The air in the home feels stale or stuffy.
  • Strong smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on.
  • Pilot light and burning flames are yellow/orange, not blue.
  • Pilot lights go out.
  • Chalky white powder or soot around exhaust vent or chimney.

For more information on Carbon Monoxide, we'd recommend visiting the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs page.

Annual furnace maintenance by a licensed contractor is important to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Improper furnace venting or a failed heat exchanger can cause elevated CO levels in a home. Salmon Plumbing & Heating technicians check CO levels when we service your furnace. If our technicians find elevated CO levels, they are trained to identify the source and will take immediate steps to protect your family.

Improving Home Comfort with a New Furnace

Many of our customers that buy a new furnace do it to take advantage of energy savings and government rebates.

People are often surprised to discover that their home is more comfortable in both summer and winter.

Some high efficiency furnaces from Daikin and Ruud are multi-stage furnaces with variable speed fans. The fans on new furnaces can move much more air than older furnaces.

Daikin Furnace
Ruud Furnace

During the winter months, the furnace fires at different levels, automatically adjusting to outdoor conditions. On extremely cold nights like we see here in London Ontario, the furnace will fire at a higher level and your fan will run at a higher speed to keep your house warm on frigid nights.

Most of the time in London, during the winter months, the temperature is running between -5C and +5C. During these milder periods, the furnace and the fan will run at a lower setting to maintain your home’s temperature at a constant and comfortable level.

Modern furnaces keep the temperature very close to the thermostat setting, normally not varying more than half of a degree, plus or minus.

During the summer months your furnace fan will allow your air conditioner to do a better job, especially in multi-level homes. Warm air rises and on a hot summer day our homes can become uncomfortably warm on the second floor.

The new high efficiency furnaces will move much more air than older furnaces. That means that your system can deliver more cool air to your upper level in the summer months.

We’ve had customers tell us that "had they known how much better their air conditioner would work, they would have not waited so long to replace their furnace".

Upgrading your furnace is probably a lot less trouble than you think. Just give us a call and we can take a look at your current equipment and give you a pretty good idea what energy savings you could start enjoying immediately. This is all a free service that we offer, with no obligation or pressure tactics.

Many customers are pleased to discover that a new furnace can actually pay for itself. The increased comfort and peace of mind with warranties extending up to twelve years are icing on the cake.

Salmon Plumbing & Heating will assist you with the paperwork for government rebates. We can also help you with financing your new equipment.