February 23, 2015

Oil-Burning Furnace Safety

My friend JoAnne sent me an email last week that seemed an important heads-ups for anyone whose heat comes from an oil-burning furnace. I suspect this alert applies for many readers during this continuing cold weather.

Thanks, JoAnne, for the important warning.

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Hi John,

Just thought I’d share with you a close call I had this past week.

I lost my sense of smell many years ago. When I owned my own home I made sure the gas furnace had regular maintenance checks and installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor. As my PD progressed I could no longer afford my home and ended up renting an older home with an oil furnace.

In the last month I’ve woken up to find the house was quite cold and that the furnace had quit some time through the night. I’d press the red restart button and it would run again. Last week I had some misgivings at having to do this for the 5th time. I hated the idea of bugging the landlord, but I asked to have a repair person check it out.

He said he didn’t want to alarm me when he first stepped into the house, but he could smell oil.

My kids had mentioned they could smell oil when they visited but I always passed it off as them having more sensitive senses of smell. The furnace looked to be in good shape and while I glanced at the pipes occasionally, I never looked at them closely - even when I changed the air filters. Being right handed, I worked from the other side of the pipe that had the hole.

Long story short, the repair person followed Ontario law and immediately capped off the oil tank and removed parts of the furnace to make it impossible for anyone to try to hook it back up. He said we were very fortunate to not be sick or have had carbon monoxide poisoning. His warning was that if you have to push that red reset button even once, the repair person should be called in to check it right away. My lack of smell and my reluctance to bother the landlord could’ve had more dire results. Perhaps my close call can be a heads up for other PD people to keep closer tabs on their furnaces and be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.

JoAnne


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My friend then followed up with this reassuring info:

The installers finished hooking up the new furnace at around 5:00 - it feels SO nice after relying on 3 little space heaters in the midst of the lowest temps we’ve had here all winter and even some record breaking lows!


7 comments:

Brett Rogers said...

Oh my! This is quite an unfortunate situation for your friend. And to think that she has already lost her sense of smell, makes it more difficult for her to identify whether there’s a problem with her furnace or not. Anyway, It’s good that she had a new furnace installed. Thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!


Brett Rogers @ Flame Furnace

Henrietta Fuller said...

We usually detect malfunctions and errors in our appliances, especially our furnaces, by smelling unusual odors they release. It was probably hard for JoAnne to do so, since her sense of smell is already poor. On the other hand, I'm glad that the problem with her furnace has already been resolved. Thanks for sharing that, John! All the best to you!

Henrietta Fuller @ Bri-Tech HVAC

Willard Evans said...
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Willard Evans said...
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Willard Evans said...
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Willard Evans said...
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Willard Evans said...

That was a close call. It seems that the repairman had arrived in time. It also helped that you have people with a keen sense of smell around your house. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real threat with old furnaces. It's best not to wait for an incident to occur before doing something about it. The replacement couldn't be more welcome. Take care!

Randall Rogers @ R J Heating and Cooling

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