Can My Furnace Hurt My Home’s Indoor Air Quality?

Sick Woman

Your gas furnace has a straightforward job: keep your family feeling toasty warm all through the winter. Okay, it also keeps your pets toasty warm as well. I know most of us have fur coats, but make no mistake—we need to have comfortable environments to stay at our healthiest.

Because you’re asking me about indoor air quality and your furnace, you might be worried the furnace is doing, well, something to the air your family breathes. The simple answer is, yes, the furnace can harm indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid potential troubles. You can trust our team to help with better heating and better indoor air quality in Knoxville, TN.

Cough, hack, wheeze, sneeze … the dusty old furnace

If your home feels stuffy and dusty when the furnace is running, there may be something wrong with it. A neglected furnace picks up plenty of dust and debris, and it will end up sending it back into the house, then keep circulating it ‘round and ‘round. The fix for this: have our technicians give it a thorough cleaning each year as part of annual maintenance. Forgot to schedule your maintenance in the fall? No problem, sign up for our Comfort Club and we’ll take care of this as soon as we can get you on the schedule.

Harmful contaminants from an unchanged filter

I talk about regular changes to the air filter in the HVAC system often on my blog—and that’s because the one simple step of changing the filter every 1 to 6 months (depending on filter type) avoids many problems.

Here’s another one: a clogged filter can mean nasty contaminants getting inside your home. I’m not just talking about ol’ dust and dirt, which are bad enough. A clogged filter can send out dust mites, which are a major allergy triggers. The worst is mold spores. A filter choked up with lint is a prime spot for mold to grow, especially when there’s humidity. Please, please, change your filter on a regular timeline!

Dry conditions

You may have heard that a gas furnace dries out the air in a home. This is exactly true. A standard atmosphere furnace draws on air inside the house for combustion, which leaves an air deficit indoors. To fill in the space, the outdoor air pushes in—and outdoor air during the winter is often dry. Newer sealed combustion furnaces don’t create this problem because they pull air for combustion from outside the house through a PVC pipe.

Toxic gases

I saved the worst for last because I didn’t want to alarm you upfront. Please don’t think of your gas furnace as a dangerous device, because it isn’t as long as it’s inspected regularly. Neglect can lead to a serious health hazard: carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic byproduct of combustion, escaping from the furnace and into the house. There’s no worse kind of indoor air quality problem than a colorless, odorless, toxic gas! If you use natural gas, you must have CO detectors around the house to alert you to leaks. Our technicians are familiar with the ways a furnace can become harmful and will catch these problems during an inspection. We always perform a combustion analysis to ensure the safe operation of a gas furnace.

Stay cool,


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