just to be on the safe side...
April 22, 2007 5:08 PM   Subscribe

mr. kerning accidentally dropped an aleve tablet in the floor vent of our gas furnace. he's worried that it will burn and release toxic fumes that will kill us in our sleep. is there anything to be worried about?

we've already tried to find it in there and we can't, so i guess if everyone posts something like "yes, you will die" then uh, it was nice being a part of mefi. :)
posted by kerning to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
no, you will be fine.
posted by sophist at 5:19 PM on April 22, 2007

Turn on your furnace and go out for the night if you're worried.

(If chemical warfare were this easy, we'd all be in trouble)
posted by IronLizard at 5:19 PM on April 22, 2007

Uh, how could an Aleve tablet be toxic? It's something you *ingest* for arthritis pain, right?

Anyway, it shouldn't burn - your floor vents are not the actual exhaust for the furnace (there should be a stack on the outside of your house), so the Aleve tablet will probably sit despondently in a hidden nook being washed by comfortably warm, dry air until some future athritic age...
posted by KokuRyu at 5:20 PM on April 22, 2007

I defer to jjg for actual testing. Even if it went down the floor vent, doesn't the ductwork make any turns on the way to the furnace? If so, the pill is probably just lying down there in a pile of dust.
posted by Liosliath at 5:21 PM on April 22, 2007

I'm pretty sure my grandmother has dropped everything from heart medicine to small animals into her furnace, to no ill effect.
posted by dmd at 5:28 PM on April 22, 2007

heating ducts don't get any hotter that the air they expel. Unless the air from your ducts routinely sets things on fire, you have nothing to worry about.
posted by cosmicbandito at 5:38 PM on April 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

1. There is no way that tablet is going to reach the fire of the furnace proper
2. Burning aleve will surely not cause you any health risk
3. The volume of air in your house would diffuse anything so small unless it was extremely toxic (which of course aleve is not)
4. If you want to pay my airfare and a $20 per hour rate I'll come out and dismantle the whole thing for you.
posted by edgeways at 5:55 PM on April 22, 2007

Safe-to-eat doesn't necessarily mean safe-to-inhale, however in this case I think you're fine anyway, certainly lots of dust and lint gets down there and you're not constantly smelling burning things--and dust is known for burning easily!
posted by anaelith at 5:55 PM on April 22, 2007

I do HVAC-R. No.
posted by vonliebig at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2007

If it DID cause some sort of effects on people, can you imagine stupid young people dropping all kinds of pills into the vents in an attempt to infuse the house with sensory-altering odors and scents? Aye carumba!
posted by davidmsc at 7:53 PM on April 22, 2007

I have to differ from most of the sentiment here and say that I have no idea if a burning aleve tablet would be toxic. But, there's no way that pill is going to make it to any portion of the furnace that will be hot enough to chemically alter it.

However, if it really bothers you, you can get the ducts cleaned. Something that needs to be done every few years anyway.
posted by 517 at 8:36 PM on April 22, 2007

Response by poster: thanks all. i figured there was nothing to worry about, but the boyfriend has a chemical-phobia. i told him if anyone knew, you guys would!
posted by kerning at 8:51 PM on April 22, 2007

I wouldnt worry about it, but if you experience any of the following then you should talk to a doctor:
Symptoms of overdose include drowsiness, heartburn, vomiting, CNS depression, leukocytosis, and renal failure. Management is supportive and symptomatic. Seizures tend to be very short-lived and often do not require drug treatment.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:55 AM on April 23, 2007

According to the MSDS[PDF] "Product poses little or no hazard if spilled and no unusual hazard in a fire." So even if you had the impossible luck of the pill making it to your combustion heat exchanger you'll be all right.
posted by Mitheral at 11:50 AM on April 23, 2007

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