You can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide, or CO, but high concentrations can be deadly. Hundreds of people in the United States succumb to its effects every year. Carbon monoxide detectors can save your life, and knowing the sources of CO can help you avoid issues with this dangerous gas in the first place. Professional air quality services can help you identify sources, determine whether your home is safe, and take steps to protect you and your family.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
CO is a gas formed by incomplete combustion of fuels. It can emanate from burning coal, wood, natural gas, and propane. It is so dangerous because when it’s inhaled and enters the bloodstream, it can block oxygen absorption. A lack of oxygen can damage tissues throughout the body and lead to death. No one is immune to the effects of carbon monoxide. However, infants, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory or heart problems are more at risk for complications due to CO poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Symptoms
The symptoms of CO poisoning can be similar to those of the flu. While you can escape exposure to relieve mild symptoms, you won’t notice a serious problem if you are asleep. Common signs of exposure include:
- Impaired vision
- Lack of coordination
- Chest pain (in someone with a heart condition)
- Loss of consciousness
Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide
The sources of CO gas in your home may be:
- Gas Stovetops: A dirty oven, burner, or rangetop increases the risk of carbon monoxide Ovens must be well-ventilated and should never be used as a heating source.
- Furnaces: Those that burn gas, oil, or coal can emit CO gas if not working properly, especially during winter cold spells. Your furnace should therefore be inspected and maintained annually by a professional.
- Generators: Gas-powered portable models are notorious for producing high levels of CO. Use them outside, downwind from open windows and doors, and at least 25 feet away from your home.
- Fireplaces: Wood-burning and gas fireplaces produce CO. To stay protected, open the flue when the fireplace is on and have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
- Grills: Using a grill in an enclosed space can lead to higher concentrations of CO. Avoid grilling in your garage or other indoor location. It should always be done outside.
- Vehicle Exhaust: Carbon monoxide can be produced during the fuel combustion process; running your vehicle indoors can cause CO to accumulate in your home. In any garage, open the garage door before running your car.
How Can You Protect Against Carbon Monoxide?
You can reverse the symptoms by escaping exposure to the gas, meaning if you go outside and you feel better, there may be CO in your home. Opening the windows to let in fresh air can help as well. Ventilating fuel-burning appliances is one of the most effective ways to prevent problems. It can direct CO gas outside living spaces and away from your home.
Acting on other warning signs can protect you as well. Call a professional if you notice soot around your furnace, there’s no upward draft in your chimney, or bricks on the chimney-top are damaged or discolored. Excess moisture on windows and walls can be a warning sign as well.
However, a carbon monoxide detector is the most effective way to prevent CO poisoning. There should be one on each level of your home, in an attached garage, and in the basement as well as inside or directly outside bedrooms or other sleeping areas. Each detector should be well-maintained, which includes testing them and replacing the batteries at least twice a year. A CO detector usually lasts five to seven years and should be replaced with newer, more updated equipment after that time.
Contact Sky Heating, AC & Plumbing
A leading heating and AC repair company in the Portland area, Sky Heating, AC & Plumbing provides professional installation, repair, and maintenance services. We can also ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed and maintained. Our licensed technicians are committed to your comfort and safety. Contact us at 541-275-2918 or online for CO detector help, air quality services, and HVAC repair.