Every homeowner needs to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide accumulating in your home. It’s not uncommon for furnaces and other gas appliances to begin emitting dangerous carbon monoxide when they malfunction. As a byproduct of the combustion that powers forced air furnaces, gas water heaters and other gas appliances, it is a deadly, yet odorless substance that can result in illness or death if your home lacks proper detection methods. While many homes today are equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, it’s wise to take steps to avoid the gas for being present in your home.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) reduces the amount of oxygen in a person’s system. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning. In addition, more than 4,000 are hospitalized and more than 20,000 visit the emergency room for this issue. Even small amounts of carbon monoxide can cause a number of health problems. Symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Dull headaches
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Mental confusion
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide From Being Present in Your Home
By learning how to prevent such a deadly gas from filtering through your home, you can relax and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have well-maintained furnace to heat your home during the cold weather season. Some of the things you should make sure to do to keep carbon monoxide from collecting inside your home include:
- Calling for gas furnace maintenance once a year. During your annual furnace maintenance appointment, the technician will check that combustion gases are being properly vented away from your home. In addition, regular furnace maintenance can help extend the lifespan of your system, reduce the amount of dust that circulates throughout your home and help you save energy and energy dollars.
- Calling for a chimney sweep once a year. Creosote and other debris in your chimney can prevent carbon monoxide and other combustion gases from properly exiting your home. A good chimney sweep can help keep your chimney clear and safe.
- Installing a modern carbon monoxide detector. Every home should have a working carbon monoxide detector. This affordable device plugs into an electrical outlet and makes a shrill sound if it detects even a small amount of carbon monoxide, giving residents time to evacuate the home before they can be harmed. You’ll also want to test the device once a year to make sure that it is still functioning properly.
- Do not use charcoal grills or portable gas stove indoors. While charcoal grills and portable camp stoves are great for using outdoors in the back yard or while on a camping trip, charcoal and propane tanks generate carbon monoxide and aren’t equipped with a venting system like your kitchen stove or your furnace. If used indoors, this carbon monoxide will accumulate in your home. Simply opening a window is not enough to make sure that these gases are funneled outside.
- Only buy gas equipment with the seal of approval from a national testing agency. Any gas appliance has the potential to leak carbon monoxide. Make sure the stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers and furnaces you install in your home are safe my only buying those that have been approved by a government testing agency, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Make sure gas appliances are vented properly. Ask the installer to show you how the appliance is vented when you add a new stove, furnace or other gas appliance to your home.
- Avoid heating your home with an oven. Ovens and designed to heat food, not your home. Left oven and on for long periods of time, they can leak carbon monoxide into your home and become a fire hazard.
- Look out for a yellow flame in your pilot light. If your gas furnace is designed with a pilot light, as many units made before the late 1990s are, it’s important to keep an eye on the color of the flame. A blue flame indicates that the combustion process is complete. However, a yellow or red flame means that not all of the gases are being consumed in the combustion process and are likely being leaked into your home.
Carbon monoxide can be a serious problem if allowed to collect inside your home. Keep your family safe by taking steps to prevent this from happening, steps like having regular furnace maintenance, making sure that your chimneys are clear and never, ever using charcoal inside your home.