Things To Know About Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

May 14, 2020

Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, is a by-product of burning fuel. This dangerous gas is produced by car engines as well as furnaces, fireplaces, and gas ranges indoors. Inside the home, carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels, and it sends over 20,000 people to the emergency room every year.

If you have a gas appliance or fireplace in your home, it’s important to know about carbon monoxide (CO) and how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning to protect yourself and your family.

1. Carbon Monoxide Can Kill Silently and Quickly

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because the body treats it like oxygen and even prefers it to oxygen, even though it can’t use it. CO binds to the hemoglobin in blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body about 200x more easily than oxygen binds. When CO binds with hemoglobin, oxygen cannot do so, and your body will be starved of oxygen.

With moderate levels of exposure, you may experience balance problems, memory and vision issues, and loss of consciousness. Symptoms of CO poisoning often seem like the flu and include weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, and vomiting. Serious long-term effects can occur with higher exposure. Unfortunately, many people who die from CO poisoning do so in their sleep without ever experiencing symptoms.

2. Your Home Should Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors

One of the best ways to protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning is installing CO detectors in your home. There should be a CO detector on every floor located where they can be heard in the bedrooms.

Some CO detectors display a digital readout of the CO levels in the home. Long-term exposure to 1 to 70 ppm generally doesn’t cause harm but at over 70 ppm, you will have noticeable symptoms. Between 150 and 200 ppm, CO poisoning can cause unconsciousness and death.

If the alarm goes off, immediately go outside and call the fire department.

3. Have Gas Appliances Serviced Regularly

It’s crucial to make sure that your furnace, gas range, fireplace and water heater are maintained or tuned-up regularly to prevent them from leaking carbon monoxide into your home. With a furnace, for example, CO is contained in the heat exchange and vented through the flue vent and outside your home when everything is working properly. Issues with the venting system or, more commonly, a crack in the heat exchanger can allow CO to leak out into your house.

Make sure your furnace gets an annual tune-up to check the condition of the heat exchanger and look for possible leaks. A fireplace and chimney should be inspected for obstructions, a damaged heat exchanger, or cracks in the firewall.

Are you concerned about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning? If you have a gas furnace in your home, Border Sheet Metal & Heating in Idaho will assure the safety of you and your family. Our NATE-certified technicians can perform an annual tune-up to check the safety of your appliances. We also perform geothermal system installation and water heater repairs. Give us a call today to learn more.

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