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Dangerous Fuel Odors in Your Home and What to Do About Them

November 2, 2019

Dangerous fuel odors in your home indicate something is wrong and you should take action immediately.  Oil tanks and furnaces also tend to leak and cause spills when they get older.  Do not delay in testing your home for dangerous fuel odors and cancer causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

If you smell oil in your house, that is a clear sign that either oil has spilled somewhere within your home or there is a problem with the burners within the furnace. If you have a furnace in a place like your basement, there may have been a leaking oil tank or pipe. These components are responsible for bringing oil into your house. Fuel odors can be quite dangerous because an explosion could occur from the buildup of unburnt fuel.

Normally, when everything is working as it should, there are no health risks. However, if they start leaking, then you will be exposing yourself to potential health issues. Dangerous furnace smells are something you should never ignore. However, some people ignore them for years, only to find out that they have received a life-threatening illness. By educating yourself on how fuel odors occur, what the health risks are, and what you can do to protect yourself, you will be avoiding a whole host of problems.

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How Fuel Odors Occur

There are a few ways a fuel odor can come crawling up into the rest of your home and into your lungs. When you understand how toxic oil fumes get out into the rest of your home, you can then act quickly and work on resolving the issue permanently. Here are a few of the most common ways fuel odors occur.

Oil Spills

If you smell the distinct odor of oil, it means you probably have a spill somewhere. Oil spills are most often found in the basement where the oil furnace is. If you smell fuel odor in your home, check all of the connecting points within your furnace system to see if you can identify where the problem area is. You can also look for any noticeable stains on the ground in an area such as your basement.

Cracks in the Furnace

Your furnace’s oil burner may have developed cracks if you smell fuel odors in your house. There should be a nozzle in your oil burner that sprays a bit of oil before igniting it. This is the process which creates heat within your home. The oil ignition will pressurize the internal compartment. If there happens to be a crack anywhere within the heat exchanger, there could be dangerous fumes leaking out of it. It is important for you to identify whether you have cracks because they will get bigger as time goes on. In the worst-case scenario, your furnace will become ruined.

Ventilation Issues

Oil naturally gives off fumes after it is burned. This process is usually under tight wraps within your oil furnace. If you smell burning oil, it means the fumes are not being properly channeled away. The furnace’s venting system may have become blocked or has developed cracks within it. When this happens, instead of the fumes leaving your home, they enter back into it. An even more serious side effect of this ventilation issue is that if you can smell the oil fumes, there may also be carbon dioxide leaking, which can be lethal.

Potential Health Issues

When it comes to dangerous fuel odors in your home, there are some serious health concerns you should be aware of. To get more specific, we are going to focus on oil spills from an oil tank or furnace. Here are some of the health risks that stem from breathing in these toxic fumes.

If you are only briefly exposed to fuel odors, you will usually avoid having any long-term health issues. However, if you breathe in fumes from fuel oil in an enclosed area such as your basement, you can experience short-term health symptoms.

When you become exposed to high concentrations of fuel odors, which occur when there is a large oil spill, you can experience nausea, dizziness, and irritation of your eyes, ears, and nose. These are symptoms which will resolve themselves with an immediate evacuation of the area in which the spill occurred. Open windows in the impacted areas to avoid any buildup of toxic fumes.

Depending on your level of sensitivity, you may experience more severe side effects than others. However, even low concentrations of toxic fuel fumes can cause your body to have a negative reaction. The best action for you to take as fast as you can is getting some fresh air. This will usually relieve these symptoms by itself.

If you are getting exposed to dangerous fuel odors for several years, you are running the risk of having far more severe health issues. Some of the most common health problems in this case would be liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Remember: if you smell fuel oil, there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

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What to Do

If you smell noxious fuel odors in your home, you need to take immediate action to protect the health and well-being of yourself and everyone else in your home.

You should hire a professional who will conduct tests to quantify exactly how much hazardous fuel has leaked and resulted in toxic chemicals being expelled into the air. An experienced indoor engineering firm will be able to accurately provide this service for you.

IndoorDoctor has the ability to instantly measure the total amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), along with low-level carbon monoxide. IndoorDoctor takes laboratory-based samples in order to categorize the different hazardous fuel compounds. If you want to ensure that you safely take care of any dangerous oil spills, you should contact IndoorDoctor as soon as you have identified that you may be dealing with a hazardous spill.

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