Everyone knows why a chimney is necessary for a wood-burning fireplace. Burning wood produces a lot of smoke, which is quite harmful if inhaled. The chimney exists to vent the smoke out of the house, while still allowing the heat from the fire to radiate through the room. Why do modern heating systems need exhaust flues, though? They mostly burn natural gas, not wood, so there’s no need to vent smoke. Read on for an explanation of how combustion systems work, and why you should be very glad that they make use of exhaust flues.
Most home heating systems utilize some form of combustion. That is, they burn a fuel of some kind to generate heat for the house. What many homeowners don’t know is that all of these systems use incomplete combustion. As the name suggests, incomplete combustion is when the fuel is not entirely consumed by the process of burning it. There are leftover bits and pieces, called “combustion byproducts” that remain after the fuel is burned. It is these byproducts that the exhaust flue is meant to address.
There are a number of different combustion byproducts of burning natural gas. Most of these are harmless, but the three most dangerous byproducts are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. All three of these gases are dangerous to humans if inhaled, and can cause a number of harmful side effects including death. Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous of the three, due to humans’ inability to detect it. It is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. The only way to detect carbon monoxide is to buy a sensor (which is a good idea) or recognize the signs of exposure. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sudden dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, seizures, unconsciousness, and death. If you begin to feel any of the preliminary symptoms in your home while the heat is on, get out of the house immediately and call emergency services.
This is why the exhaust flue is so important. These combustion byproducts are an unavoidable result of combustion heating. The exhaust flue is what siphons these pollutants out of your house and keeps you safe. If you have any reason to suspect that your exhaust flue is having issues, call Design Comfort as soon as possible. We provide heating repair throughout Salt Lake City.