As the days are getting colder, people are turning on their heaters and closing their homes up tight. That's a recipe for disaster if there is a problem with carbon monoxide (CO) in the home.
CO is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas and it can form when fuels are burned: gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood, coal, etc. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher concentrations, and is measured in ppm (parts per million).
The Centers for Disease Control reports that CO is the number one cause of deaths from poisoning in the United States.
Every winter we read heartbreaking stories of families who had a CO problem in their homes with tragic results. The early symptoms of CO poisoning, often mistaken for the flu, are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion. Since CO builds up over time, a small exposure over an extended period can be as dangerous as a brief, large exposure. An appliance that is not venting properly or in need of repair can allow CO to build up in your home.
When a technician performs preventive maintenance on your heating system, they measure for CO with a combustion analyzer. If your readings are outside of the safe range, the technician can take immediate action to protect you and your family and help you correct the problem. This test should be done each heating season to insure your equipment is operating safely.
For further protection you should install a reliable, low-level CO detector that can alert you before a situation becomes dangerous. Look for one that meets or exceeds UL Standard 2034 and has a battery backup. A separate monitor should be placed on each floor of your home. Current building codes now require the installation of a CO detector outside of each bedroom area in your home.
Don't ignore the risk of CO in your home. If you have further questions or need help finding a low-level CO detector, contact the heating professionals at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling.