A Leaky Furnace Is Tech, Right?

Well, in November my furnace tried to kill me – and it got pretty close to accomplishing that task.

The heat shield had been dislodged, the gas flow was too high, and there was a missing portion of the overall shell. That, alongside the fact that it got substantially colder which caused the furnace to run for most of the day instead of once in a while, meant the carbon monoxide buildup in the house got to deadly levels.

I was progressively feeling worse and worse as the month went on. Nausea was constant, dizziness and confusion plagued me, and when I started falling asleep at strange times a friend suggested the idea that I may be suffering from CO poisoning. An older detector was installed in the house when I moved in, but it was basically useless. I purchased new detectors, and they almost immediately started alerting to dangerous levels. After chasing a few red herrings thinking the leak was coming through my unlined chimney that runs up the center of the house, I finally realized the source was CO pouring out of the furnace itself in the basement.

I had some help from an old friend, who walked me through the steps I needed to take to service my furnace and avoid an extremely costly emergency appointment to review it and much much more costly furnace replacement.


  • Shut down furnace and allow it to cool
  • Remove each burner by rotating 90 degrees, and lowering rear end through slot, then pulling away from gas connection (towards rear of furnace)
  • Scrubbed each burner thoroughly with a wire brush and dumped accumulated rust from the period where part of the furnace had been submerged (flooded basement before I bought the place)
  • Vac’d out incredible amount of accumulated carbon buildup
  • Scrubbed the bottom of furnace to remove decades of carbon buildup and allow for much more efficient heating of the boiler
  • Replaced burners
  • Adjusted gas flow to just above bare minimum and restarted furnace
  • Installed a temporary front cover (must replace with better solution long term)
  • Installed a new CO detector directly above the furnace, which now shows no sign of CO in the air.
  • Installed more detectors in the house to monitor for leaks/buildup

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