A furnace, when running a heating cycle, will develop carbon monoxide gases and other fumes that must be safely directed away from the home. If these gases and fumes are not properly ventilated, they can back up which will lead to a number of different problems. Most people assume the furnace ventilation system, or better known as the flue, can never be closed or blocked. However, this is not the case. Flues do need to be cleaned to ensure proper air flow. Air Supply Heating & Air Conditioning would like to share why it is important to have the flue cleaned and the signs telling you the flue needs to be cleaned.
What is a Furnace Exhaust Flue?
Only a gas furnace will require a flue, as electrical furnaces do not use a fuel source that creates fumes and gases. A furnace flue is a ventilation system that runs from the furnace to outside or to the home’s chimney if present. If the home doesn’t have a chimney for the flue to tap into, a haft will be built to feed the flue up to the roof. In most cases the flue will have a protective cover or screen to help protect the flue from birds, pets and debris that block the vent. As a number of steps have been taken to prevent the flue from becoming obstructed, blockages can still occur which is why flues do require to be cleaned.
How Dangerous is a Blocked Furnace Flue?
Even though there has been a number of steps taken to prevent the flue from becoming blocked, it still can and does happen. When the flue is blocked, the fumes and gases will back up and the pressure will increase, forcing the fumes and gases to be forced out another way. The small cracks or holes won’t be enough for the gases to escape out through and eventually the home can begin to fill up with the fumes or carbon monoxide gases. Carbon monoxide gas is toxic and can lead to major illness and death. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless, tasteless and cannot be seen. This means no one will know when they are exposed to this gas until they begin to feel sick. Due to the potential dangers that a blocked flue can pose, it is important to make sure the flue is always clean to ensure the gas and fumes are safely ventilated away.
Signs of a Clogged Furnace Flue
A flue can become blocked due to debris, small birds, and even by ash. Scales are another common reason why a flue can become clogged. Scales can form when the gases and fumes from the furnace mixes with moisture. When the flue does become clogged it will provide some clues. One sign that the flue is clogged is water stains or rust. When a flue becomes clogged, condensation will develop which will lead to the pipe rusting and beads of water running down the flue. Another common sign is that soot will build up around the vents or be blown back in. You may even be able to see mineral salt building up inside a chimney due to moisture and minerals from the furnace.