A good friend of mine went on a service call one night a few years ago. He was kneeling in front of a boil-er and when he turned on the switch, the explosion that ensued tore off the steel door he was kneeling in front of. The force of the blow propelled him in the air, some 10 feet from the boiler causing a blown ear drum, broken ribs and a broken collar bone to name just a few ailments. Had he been close to a wall, he would have been a goner. The cause of the explosion was put down as carbon monoxide.
I am constantly reminded of the dangers associated with the servicing of gas and oil appliances. When I enter cli-ents homes and I see just how easily people forget about their oil or gas appliances. The idea of what you don’t see, you easily forget about. I am the first to admit to being guilty of having done this in my own life. But can you im-agine being told by someone: “I’ll let you go down in the basement. It’s too scary for me. I never go down there.” Guess what I found when I finally got down the stairs. You would not believe it, a ticking time bomb. But forget-ting your hot water tank, furnace, boiler or fireplace be-cause they’re out of sight, may just kill you, literally.
The technical properties of carbon monoxide make it an extremely dangerous gas. We all know that it removes the oxygen in our bloodstream. But if we compare it to natural gas which explodes between 4 to 14% in air, carbon mon-oxide explodes at the far greater range of 12.5 to 74%. It has a density (weight) very close to air which makes it easy for your furnace to blow it in all the rooms of your house.
When you burn any fuel which has carbon such as oil, gas, wood, candles and cigarettes, you produce it. The best way to produce it is by what we call impingement. This hap-pens by the cooling of the flame when it touches a metal surface in your furnace, boiler, fireplace or water tank. The cooling of the flame produces huge amounts of carbon monoxide. The best remedy is a proper annual cleaning that involves testing all parts and comparing them to the manufacturer’s specifications. A checklist with no specif-ic numbers is not what you want. If the technician you hire only spends 20 minutes on your furnace, he hasn’t taken the time to properly test all the various parts. Know your numbers. This will ensure a safe night’s sleep.
Watch me perform flame impingement on a water balloon, just go to www.SurgeonHomeServices.com or call me at 613-938-6148 and I will be glad to send you a free copy of the video.
Eddy is the president of Surgeon Home Services Ltd , a natural gas, propane, oil heating and cooling company serving S, D & G