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Beware strange furnace smells

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Well, my family learned something disturbing this week.  For a little while now, my mom, sister, and I were wondering what this rather awful smell was that was coming from the furnace.  As this year has been so bad for pesky little vermin, we thought maybe a mouse/rat had crawled up into the furnace ducts and died.  We called out someone to take a look at it and found that the reason for the smell was much worse than dead rodents.  The furnace is completely shot and apparently has been leaking carbon monoxide (no idea for how long either, as we try not to use it that much).  It seems that carbon monoxide is not so odorless after all, but only some people are sensitive enough to smell it (which explains why my dad couldn't).  The repairman said that at 900 parts-per-million, a person will only last for about 6 hours.  Our furnace was putting out between 500-600 ppms.  If those levels continued, he said we'd have gone to sleep one night and not woken up. 

Thanking/praising God for His protection and for giving us noses that could smell something was off!!

Wow, so glad you could smell it and were smart enough to call for a repair!  We've got a carbon monoxide detector it the basement, that we bought ourselves and put down there not long ago.  There was a day when both Eric and I weren't feeling well after working in the basement, feeling kind of woozy and lethargic.

Immediately went out and bought a carbon monoxide detector.  Turned out not to be that (we think we simply weren't feeling great or it was from being under the plastic we used for the mushroom greenhouse too long & not having enough oxygen.  But yeah, it's really good to have one in general.

The furnace is actually so badly shot that it can't be repaired.  We're going to have to replace it altogether.  Until then, the gas has been turned off at the furnace so it won't leak/poison us anymore.

Fortunately, we mostly use our wood stove in the back of the house and the small gas fireplace at the front.  The furnace has been more of a back-up when neither or those are putting out enough heat (we are in upper-mid Michigan so......).

Some of us were getting headaches and nausea.  I've actually been having some health issues for 3+ years now so we're wondering if any of it may be related to the carbon monoxide since we have no idea how long it's been going on and the leak would have started small.

Just to clarify a little chemistry -- CO (carbon monoxide) is colorless, odorless and tasteless.  Contamination with mercaptins is what usually provides the odor that people can detect.  Thankfully, your gas was contaminated so it was , detectable by smell.  That is why I have CO detectors in my house, as well as both smoke and rate of rise temperature alarms for fire.


Thank God you guys are safe, hopefully you will be feeling better as well.


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