Carbon monoxide gas is so hard to detect and so deadly that it is known as a ‘silent killer’. Every year about 450 Americans are killed by carbon monoxide gas and over 50,000 Americans visit emergency rooms for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide leaks can often occur inside of homes, leading to potentially deadly consequences. But there are plenty of things that you can do to better protect you and your loved ones from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep reading to learn more about carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide heater and furnace safety, the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, and what you can do to prevent and avoid carbon monoxide leaks in your home.
What Is Carbon Monoxide & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous gas. It is a byproduct that is produced any time that you burn fuel in a car, stove, heater, or furnace.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you breathe in too much carbon monoxide. As it is inhaled, carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in your blood, leading to a lack of oxygen. Without oxygen, your body’s cells slowly start to die as your brain and organs shut down.
Because this process can be hard to notice at first, and because carbon monoxide is so hard to detect, people can often inhale a large amount of it before they notice that anything is wrong.
How Can Carbon Monoxide Leaks Happen Inside Your Home?
There are several ways that carbon monoxide can accumulate inside your home.
One of the most common ways is due to a malfunctioning furnace. Furnaces that have been installed incorrectly, that are damaged, or that are malfunctioning due to restricted airflow could potentially lead to carbon monoxide leaks.
Additionally, there are several other things that could potentially lead to the accumulation of carbon monoxide gas in your home.
Vents that have been clogged up with dust and debris could lead to CO accumulation. Carbon monoxide can also accumulate due to clogged chimneys and fireplaces, faulty cooking appliances, and indoor smoking.
Since there are so many potential sources of carbon monoxide inside of your home, its important to do what you can to prevent and avoid potential carbon monoxide leaks.
When Was The Last Time You Checked Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
One of the best and most effective ways to protect you and your family from carbon monoxide is by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors can detect carbon monoxide fumes in the air and alert you of their presence with an alarm.
You can find carbon monoxide detectors at home improvement stores and many major retailers. While their cost can vary, you can usually find them for as little as $15. Depending on what pricepoint you are comfortable with, you may want to consider a detector with a longer life span, a loud alarm, and a digital display.
The number of CO detectors that you should have in your home will depend on how large your home is. If you are dealing with a one level condo or apartment, one single detector can often suffice. But if you are living in a multi-level, multi-bedroom home, you will need multiple detectors placed in different spots around your home.
Its really important to find the right spots for carbon monoxide detectors in your home. If your home has multiple stories, try to palce one detector on each level. And since carbon monoxide gas rises, try to place them as close to the ceiling as possible.
Additionally, try not to place them in kitchens or garages, or near fireplaces. These spots can experience minor short-term bursts of CO gas which may set off your detector unnecessarily.
Lastly, don’t forget that most carbon monoxide detectors are battery operated, they will require you to check the status of their batteries and replace any that have stopped working. If your carbon monoxide detector is low on batteries, it should make a noise to let you know. It’s a good idea to have a spare detector battery on hand just in case you need to replace a CO detector in a pinch.
How Can You Avoid The Dangers of A Carbon Monoxide Leak?
Another good way to protect yourself from carbon monoxide is by doing your best to prevent carbon monoxide leaks from happening in the first place. There are a few things you can do to prevent CO leaks in your home.
Carbon Monoxide Heater And Furnace Safety
Having annual maintenance performed on your furnace by a local HVAC company is the most effective way to prevent carbon monoxide leaks.
During your maintenance appointment, your HVAC expert should perform a full inspection in order to determine that the unit was installed correctly, does not have any cracks, and is functioning as intended. Additionally, your technician will identify any current problems with your furnace, as well as notify you of any problems likely to occur in the future.
If you are looking for a Ventura County, California HVAC company to inspect your furnace or heater, call us today!
Remember To Change Your Furnace Filters
In addition to regularly having maintenance performed on your furnace, you should also regularly change your furnace filters.
Carbon monoxide problems are much more likely to happen when your furnace’s filters are dirty. Dirty furnace filters can restrict air flow and cause a backup of airflow in your heating system. When little to no air is passing through your furnace, its heat exchanger can overheat and crack, leaking carbon monoxide into your home.
Make sure to change your furnace filters regularly in order to prevent any potential damage to your furnace and any possible gas leaks into your home.
Even if you have an annual maintenance performed on your home furnace or heater, it could still run into problems. If you hear any irregular noises coming from your furnace (knocking, banging, rattling), you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with your local HVAC company for an inspection.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Accumulation In Your Home
There are several other things that could lead to the accumulation of carbon monoxide inside of your home.
- Clogged And Dirty Vents
- Vents that have been clogged up with dust and debris will restrict the flow of air around your home. And If your home isn’t being properly ventilated, this could lead to the accumulation of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. If your home isn’t properly ventilated then even a small source or carbon monoxide gas could eventually lead to big problems.
- Clogged Chimneys & Fireplaces
- Similarly to vents, chimneys and fireplaces can also get clogged up and cause carbon monoxide accumulation. Even if you only use your fireplace once or twice a year, you should schedule a yearly chimney cleaning. If you use your fireplace weekly, your chimney should probably be cleaned every few months.
- Cooking Hardware
- Cooking devices, and especially gas ovens, can also emit carbon monoxide. Its important to ensure that these devices are regularly cleaned and maintained in order to keep them functioning correctly. If you notice soot around your oven, or even toaster, this could be a sign of CO gas.
- Indoor Heaters And Generators
- Fuel burning space heaters and generators should not be used inside. Space heaters that are not installed correctly or working properly can release carbon monoxide as well as other toxic fumes.
- Indoor Smoking
- If your home is poorly ventilated, than smoking indoors can also cause carbon monoxide to accumulate over time. Smoking outdoors will keep your home safer and cleaner.
What Are The Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Its best to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning just in case. Being able to recognize the early signs and effects of carbon monoxide poisoning could potentially save your life or someone else’s.
The effects of carbon monoxide include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Burred Vision
- Loss of Consciousness
If you are experiencing many of these symptoms at the same time, get some fresh air immediately and seek immediate medical attention.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Around Your Home
Additionally, you may also notice signs of carbon monoxide accumulation around your home.
Take a close look at your windows and countertops. If you notice that water condensation has gathered and accumulated on these surfaces, the it is possible that you are dealing with carbon monoxide.
This kind of condensation and indoor rise in humidity can occur for several reasons and is not necessarily an indicator of carbon monoxide accumulation. However, if you notice this in addition to experiencing any symptoms, there is a very real possibility that you are dealing with carbon monoxide inside your home.
Another way to tell is by looking at the pilot lights on your gas stove or water heater. If you find that they are often going out and flickering, or that they are otherwise emitting an irregular and strange flame, this could also indicate the presence of carbon monoxide.
Keep Your Home Safe From Carbon Monoxide
As previously mentioned, the best way to protect you and your home from carbon monoxide is by having your furnace or heater undergo yearly maintenance. If you are looking for a HVAC company to service your furnace in Ventura County, California, then contact us today to find out how we can help!