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How To Know If Your HVAC Is Leaking Carbon Monoxide

Is My Ac Leaking Carbon Monoxide

TL;DR: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a dangerous gas released by faulty heating systems, posing serious health risks. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, confusion, and even death. Signs of leaks include a yellow pilot light, soot, lack of chimney updraft, stale air, and condensation on windows. Protect yourself with carbon monoxide detectors, regular HVAC maintenance, and professional inspections. Considerations before repairs include pre-season check-ups, optimizing thermostat settings, tightening electrical connections, lubricating parts, cleaning filters and coils, checking refrigerant levels, inspecting gas connections, and hiring professional help when needed. Cummings Plumbing in Tucson offers HVAC repair and installation services with experienced technicians.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that doesn’t have odor, color, or taste. But if humans or animals come across it in high concentrations, it can have toxic effects on them. That means it is essential to ensure you are not releasing any into the air through your heating system, a topic we’ll discuss in today’s article. 

Carbon monoxide from a heating unit, such as a furnace, is released due to deficient ignition of carbon-containing fuels. Some home furnaces can release CO in the air, both outside your residence and inside. This is less likely to happen with some of the newer and modern HVAC systems, but it’s still wise to know the signs that you have high levels of CO inside your home. 

Average carbon monoxide levels in indoor and home settings vary from 0.5 to 5 parts ppm and may reach 30 ppm or higher. If the levels are on the higher end of the scale, you could be dealing with carbon monoxide leaks. But how to know if your HVAC is leaking carbon monoxide? Stick around for the rest of this article to learn more!

Understanding the Risks of Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Even if you don’t know exactly how to tell whether you have a carbon monoxide leak in your home, you might get some hints from the symptoms you experience. Upon exposure to this gas, you may get migraines, shakiness, sickness, and confusion, while exposure to the gas in high concentrations can be lethal. 

Extensive exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can also lead to serious health issues. For this reason, frequent maintenance and careful observation are vital to avoid leaks and guarantee the safety of your HVAC system, especially if you use a gas furnace or burner regularly.

Signs of Potential Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Carbon monoxide may be hard to notice, but it’s not impossible to tell whether it is present in the air in your home. Any home can be affected by a carbon monoxide leak since HVAC systems and other devices can release it. You can protect your household by learning the signs of carbon monoxide leaks and how to recognize them. 

  • Yellow or Flickering Pilot Light: A flickering pilot light with a yellow hue on your gas furnace could indicate carbon monoxide production. A properly functioning furnace should have a blue flame, so any divergence from this could be a concerning sign of potential gas leaks.
  • Soot or Rust: Seeing soot or rust around the furnace or vents may indicate a carbon monoxide leak. This could be a hint of incomplete combustion and the discharge of carbon monoxide into your living space.
  • Lack of an Updraft in Your Chimney: If your chimney does not produce an updraft during the operation of the furnace, it could signal a blockage or improper ventilation. This may lead to carbon monoxide accumulation and leakage.
  • Stale or Stuffy Air: Does the air condition in your home seem dry and heavy? This may be due to improper ventilation caused by a carbon monoxide leak. This can occur together with a lack of fresh air and a feeling of discomfort.
  • Excessive Condensation on Windows: Abnormally high condensation levels on windows could indicate foul air in your home. These may be caused by a carbon monoxide leak, hinting at a malfunction in the HVAC system.

Taking Action to Address Potential Leaks

Carbon monoxide’s unscented, flavorless, and uncolored characteristics may cause unexpected leaks from faulty heating systems. Every year, over 400 people get poisoned and pass away from unexpected carbon monoxide poisoning in America. 

Thus, taking immediate action to eliminate potential carbon monoxide leaks is essential. Let’s explore the most effective ways to protect yourself and your family members from this silent threat.

  • Place Carbon Monoxide Detectors: If you fear there are carbon monoxide leaks in your property, place carbon monoxide detectors.. These appliances can signal the presence of carbon monoxide, allowing you to take prompt action to freshen the area and turn off the HVAC system if mandatory.
  • Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance: Orderly upkeep of your HVAC system is essential for preventing carbon monoxide leaks. Professional HVAC technicians can inspect the system, clean the components, and ensure that all vents and pipes are clear of gas interferences.
  • Check Vents and Flues: Frequently inspect your HVAC system’s vents and pipes to ensure they are free from obstructions or dirt accumulation. Blockages can cause improper ventilation and potential carbon monoxide residue.
  • Seek Professional Assistance: If you notice any potential signs that signal a future developing carbon monoxide leak, it is very important to seek professional assistance as soon as possible. HVAC professionals can perform a detailed inspection of your system to detect and fix any issues.

Considerations Before Scheduling a HVAC System Repair 

Organizing professional repair for your HVAC system is crucial to ensure it operates effectively and to prevent potential issues. Regular maintenance can make your system more durable, improve energy efficiency, and help avoid expensive repairs. Here is what you need to consider before scheduling an appointment with a professional service:

  • Annual Pre-Season Check-Ups: Plan to have your cooling system checked in the spring and the heating system in the fall to ensure peak performance before the peak seasons when you will use the system more regularly.
  • Check Thermoregulator Condition: Ensure the thermoregulator’s settings are optimized for comfort and energy savings.
  • Tighten Electrical Connections: Regularly tighten all electrical connections and calculate voltage levels and motor currents to avoid dangerous operation and reduce the risk of major component failure.
  • Lubricate Operating Parts: Correctly lubricate all operating parts to reduce motor resistance and minimize electricity usage.
  • Examine and Clean or Replace Air Filters: Regularly go through, clean, or replace air filters in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump to maintain efficient operation and avoid equipment deterioration.
  • Clean Evaporator and Condenser Coils: Ensure that the evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils are clean to maintain the system’s cooling efficiency and reduce energy costs.
  • Check Refrigerant Levels: Verify and adjust the refrigerant level to optimize system efficiency and lifespan.
  • Clean and Adjust Blower Components: Regularly maintain the cleanliness and modify blower components to secure accurate system airflow and enhance comfort levels.
  • Inspect Gas Connections and Pressure: Examine all gas connections, pressure, burner ignition, and heat intercharger for safety and efficiency.

Hire Professional HVAC Help in Tucson, Arizona

That’s the basic information on how to know if your HVAC is leaking carbon monoxide. Remember that all indications of a carbon monoxide leak should be taken seriously, meaning immediate freshening up of your indoor areas and contacting local HVAC specialists who can check and fix your HVAC system. 

At Cummings Plumbing, we specialize in repairing your home systems to offer the most worry-free experience. We also provide installation services performed by the most experienced and skillful technicians. As a company that has been on the market since the 1980s, you can rest assured that we can help with any HVAC problems quickly and efficiently. 

So, don’t hesitate to call us today and get your in-house free estimate!



How can I tell if my HVAC system is leaking carbon monoxide?

Look out for signs such as a yellow or flickering pilot light, soot or rust around the furnace or vents, lack of an updraft in your chimney during furnace operation, stale or stuffy air, and excessive condensation on windows. If you notice any of these signs, contact Cummings Plumbing for a professional inspection.

What should I do if I suspect a carbon monoxide leak in my home?

If you suspect a carbon monoxide leak, immediately ventilate the area by opening windows and doors, evacuate the premises, and call Cummings Plumbing for assistance. They specialize in HVAC repair and can quickly address any issues to ensure your safety.

How often should I schedule maintenance for my HVAC system to prevent carbon monoxide leaks?

It’s recommended to schedule annual maintenance for your HVAC system, ideally before the start of each peak season. Cummings Plumbing offers regular maintenance services to keep your system running efficiently and to detect any potential carbon monoxide leaks early on.

Why should I choose Cummings Plumbing for HVAC repair and maintenance?

Cummings Plumbing has been serving the Tucson area since the 1980s, providing reliable HVAC repair and installation services. Their experienced technicians specialize in identifying and fixing issues with heating systems, including carbon monoxide leaks, to ensure the safety and comfort of your home. Contact them today for a free estimate and peace of mind.

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