Carbon monoxide (CO) results from burning various fuels and can be emitted from a variety of household appliances. It’s a tasteless, odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas when inhaled, one that can result in serious health consequences.
CO poisoning also can stem from fumes generated by water heaters, gas or wood burning fireplaces, space heaters, BBQ grills, electric generators, gas ranges and ovens, and electric ovens in the self-cleaning mode.
How CO Enters Your Home
Normally the toxic gases from fuel combustion are expelled from the home, but processes called the “stack effect” and “backdraft” can prevent them from escaping. The stack effect occurs when faulty appliances create a negative air pressure by ventilating too much air outdoors. Your home will then compensate for the air pressure imbalance by sucking air—including toxic gases—back inside.
This is usually caused by loose vent pipes, cracked metal, or corrosion. Your home also could have internal equipment damage, malfunctioning components, or a hidden blockage in a vent or chimney.
Because it’s indiscernible by our senses, the effects of carbon monoxide can be felt without warning. Is it enough to protect your family with the kind of CO detectors commonly sold at home centers? Not always. That’s because many of them don’t sound the alarm until CO levels are high enough to cause such symptoms as dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath.
How to Prevent Serious Side Effects
Here at C&D Cooling & Heating, we install low-level carbon monoxide detectors for your family’s added safety. Some will sound a warning at a predetermined low level of the gas to indicate a potential problem. This alarm is useful in that it warns of low level accumulation of carbon monoxide and can prevent a more serious situation from developing.
Also consider installing a battery-operated alarm that mounts on your central air cleaner. This will monitor the furnace return air from your entire house. If you have a security system in your home, a carbon monoxide alarm can probably be connected directly into the system. Battery and hardwired models are available.
If the carbon monoxide alarm in your home does go off, leave your home immediately, and seek medical attention. Call your local fire department from a neighbor’s phone. Firefighters are equipped to detect carbon monoxide, locate the source, and stop the emission of the gas. If you are even more concerned, speak with one of our technicians about making your home safe.
To learn more about CO detectors and alarms, or to schedule installation, contact C&D Cooling & Heating today.