There are several advantages to being a homeowner. You don't have noisy neighbors above or below you as you possibly could living in an apartment. Plus, if the day comes when you decide to sell for whatever reason, you'll ideally get some of that money back and hopefully more that you can then put toward your next home purchase, unlike living in an apartment or rent house where you'll never see the rent you pay each month ever again. With that said, unlike renting, when something breaks or goes wrong it's on you to fix it. And, there are several things that can go wrong. Some of which could lead to serious damage to your home or be dangerous to you and your family if you don't pay attention to the early warning signs.

Discolored Vent Pipes Could be a Sign of a Gas Issue

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Most, if not all, homes are built with vent pipes that allow the gasses created by the combustion process inside your furnace to be safely dispersed outside your house. These pipes are usually seen sticking out of a wall outside your home or on the roof and can be made of either metal or PVC. As the Princeton Area Firefighters Union Local 1634 noted in a post on their Facebook page recently, it's important to take a look at them every once in a while. If they are the normal white color (if they're PVC), or silver/grey (if they're metal or aluminum), you're good. However, if they've turned a brownish color, or are discolored in some other way, you have a potentially dangerous problem on your hands that requires the attention of a professional as soon as possible.

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According to their post, the discoloration is caused by the aforementioned gasses from your furnace. More specifically, a leak somewhere along the path that is causing excessive heat in the vent pipe and essentially cooking it.

Why That's a Problem

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If those gasses aren't traveling down their intended path (i.e. the vent pipe) into the outside air, it means they're staying inside your home, and needless to say, that's not good.

The build-up of gas could lead to a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning which could be fatal (they don't call it the "silent killer" for nothing).

What You Should Do

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If you notice a discolored vent pipe, the Princeton Area Firefighters Union says you should call a Heating and Air Technician or your local fire department so they can come to your home and test the air quality. If carbon monoxide or another gas is detected, you'll obviously need to have a technician find the source of the leak and fix it.

While they don't mention it in their post, it would also be smart to invest in a carbon monoxide detector for your home. Carbon monoxide doesn't smell, so if it's slowly building up in your home, you may not realize it until it's too late. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends installing a detector at least five feet above the floor or on the ceiling. In my house, it's on the wall at the top of the stairs near our bedrooms.

They typically run anywhere between $20 - $35 and are well worth the investment.

Here's what a discolored pipe looks like according to the Princeton Area Firefighters Union Local so you know what to look for.

[Source: Princeton Area Firefighters Union Local 1634 on Facebook]

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