Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless toxic gas generated due to incomplete combustion of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. It can be produced by appliances fueled with gas, kerosene, wood, or oil. If these burners are not properly installed, maintained or used, the carbon monoxide may accumulate to toxic levels that are dangerous and even fatal in your home.
Under normal circumstances, CO is not easily detectable. All you need to do is to keep your appliances in perfect working condition to minimize the levels of this deadly gas. Some common sources in your home would be furnaces, water heaters, and room heaters among others.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Dangerous CO levels may be prevented by proper installation of the appliance, regular maintenance, and correct use. You may also need to engage qualified heater technician to carry out timely inspections of the possible CO-producing appliance. Alternatively, you may install a toxic concentration CO level detector to alert you of any danger and avoid fatality.
The following tips will help you avoid CO poisoning:
Proper installation is important for safe operation of any combustion appliance. All new appliances will come with installation instructions that should be followed to the detail. Ensure you engage the services of a qualified technician to ensure the local building codes are adhered to.
Appliances that are supposed to be vented should be properly vented as per the manufactures manual.
Ensure there is adequate supply of combustion air to support complete combustion.
Have a qualified heater technician perform all preventive maintenance on your system. This should be done annually for room heating appliances like furnaces and water heaters. The technician will be able to check the electrical and mechanical components of the appliances, like the automatic safety devices and thermostat controls.
Chimneys and flues should not have any loose connections, corrosion and blockages.
Vented and unvented gas space and kerosene heaters should be inspected and cleaned up for proper operation.
Other than the preventive maintenance carried out by the professional tech icians, the home owner should carry out timely inspection on any possible CO-producing appliance to identify signs of potential poisoning. The following are sign you should look out for:
- Loose or missing furnace panel
- Disconnected or loose chimney/vent connections
- Loose masonry on the chimney unit
- Rusts on the vent/chimney
- Soot or debris coming off the chimney, fireplace or appliance
For safe operation of your appliance, always follow the manufacturers’ directions of use.
The room hosting the gas heater should be well ventilated. Avoid overnight operation of unvented combustion heaters especially in your bedroom.
Additionally, the following signs could indicate abnormal operation of your heating appliance:
- Unfamiliar or burning odor in your rooms
- Soot coming from the appliance
- Reducing hot water supply
- Increased condensation on the inside of your windows.
- Inability of the furnace to generate enough heat for your house
Since carbon monoxide gas will not exhibit any warning signs even at fatal toxic levels, it is paramount to take precautions and avoid the dangers. Many fatalities usually occur due to defective or poorly operated heating appliances. With the above precautions and always ensuring your units are tested by qualified heater technicians, you will be safe from this silent killer. Additionally you may install a fatal level CO detector that would raise an alarm whenever the CO levels get toxic.