Q - I need a new super-high-efficiency gas furnace to cut my heating bills and minimize the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Are there any new, extra-safe types available? P.K.
A - It is wise to be aware and concerned about the possibility of CO poisoning. Many unsuspecting people die each year from CO gas often due to improperly maintained or installed heating systems.Many of the new super-high-efficiency gas furnaces (efficiencies above 90 percent) are also the safest. In addition to cutting your heating bills by 30 percent to 40 percent, their basic design and operation concept greatly reduces the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
These new gas furnaces use what is called "induced draft." The exhaust gases are forced outdoors by an electric blower through a small plastic pipe. If for some reason the blower malfunctions, the gas burner will not ignite. Therefore, the exhaust gases cannot backdraft into your home.
A horizontal plastic flue pipe is used instead of a chimney because special multistage heat exchangers capture nearly all the heat to warm your home. A standard average-efficiency furnace must waste some heat so the flue gases stay hot enough to naturally rise up and out the chimney.
It is also a good idea to select a new super-high-efficiency furnace that has a direct vented outdoor combustion air inlet. This creates a safe sealed system from inlet to exhaust outlet. It also insures an adequate supply of combustion air for complete, carbon monoxide-free combustion.
Utilizing direct-vented outdoor combustion air also reduces chilly drafts inside your home. Standard furnaces draw their combustion air from already-heated air inside your home.
If you have made your home more airtight over the years, you should have your old furnace checked to make sure it is getting enough combustion air. If it isn't, carbon monoxide may form and it may backdraft down the flue into your home at times.
This can be a particular problem when you are running a kitchen or bathroom vent fan, or burning your fireplace. All of these items are competing for a limited amount of air inside your home.
With any gas or oil furnace, water heater or wood burning fireplace, you can monitor it with inexpensive carbon monoxide testing tablets. If carbon monoxide gas is present, these tablets change from a light to a dark color before the concentration reaches a deadly level.
You can write to me for UTILITY BILLS UPDATE No. 257 listing super-highefficiency gas furnaces using induced draft flues and outdoor combustion air, their model numbers, efficiencies and heat output specifications, and information on the inexpensive carbon monoxide testing tablet. Write to James Dulley, The Deseret News, 6906 Royal Green Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244. Please include $1 and a self-addressed STAMPED BUSINESS-SIZE envelope.
Q - The agitator in my old clothes washer tends to operate erratically and I have to give it a start by hand sometimes. Can this cause it to use more electricity than it should? I have noticed a slight oil leak. J.G.
A - The seals in the upper or lower gear case are probably bad. This allows the lubricant to escape and perhaps allows water to get to the gears and bearings. This causes it to use more electricity than it should.
The motor uses more power to fight the increased resistance and drag. It probably doesn't clean as well either, so you must use hotter water.