How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks in Your Home

Icy temperatures encourage homeowners to secure their homes and turn up the thermostat, expanding the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Around 50,000 people in the U.S. end up in the emergency room each year as a result of unintended CO poisoning, and more than 400 people die.

This odorless, tasteless, colorless gas is a byproduct of imperfect combustion, meaning that it’s created every time a material is burned. If some appliances in your home use natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, gasoline or charcoal, you’re at risk of CO inhalation. Learn what happens when you inhale carbon monoxide fumes and how to lower your risk of poisoning this winter.

The Risks of Carbon Monoxide

Commonly known as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is lethal because it keeps the body from consuming oxygen appropriately. CO molecules dislodge oxygen that’s part of the blood, depriving the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs of oxygen. Large volumes of CO can overpower your system in minutes, leading to loss of consciousness and suffocation. Without immediate care, brain damage or death may occur.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also take place slowly if the concentration is comparatively modest. The most prevalent signs of CO inhalation include:

    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Chest pain
    • Confusion

As these symptoms imitate the flu, numerous people never find out they have carbon monoxide poisoning until mild symptoms evolve to organ damage. Watch out for symptoms that subside when you leave the house, suggesting the source might be originating from inside.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

While CO exposure is intimidating, it’s also entirely avoidable. Here are the best ways to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide gas.

Operate Combustion Appliances Safely

    • Never let your car engine run while parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed structure, like a garage.
    • Never run a generator, lawn mower or other gasoline-powered tool in a confined space such as a basement or garage, no matter how well-ventilated it is. Also, keep these devices about 20 feet away from open windows, doors or intake vents.
    • Avoid using a charcoal grill or portable camping stove within a home, tent or camper.
    • Keep all vents and flues clear of debris that may create a blockage and trigger backdrafting of carbon monoxide gases.

Install, Test and Replace the Batteries in Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If you ever use combustion appliances in or near your home, you should put in carbon monoxide detectors to warn you of CO emissions. These alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into an outlet according to the style. Here’s how to make the most of your carbon monoxide detectors:

    • Install your detectors securely: As you consider possible locations, don’t forget that your home does best with CO alarms on all floors, near any sleeping area and near the garage. Keep each unit out of reach from combustion appliances as well as sources of heat and humidity. The higher on a wall or ceiling you can place your detectors, the better.
    • Test your detectors regularly: The majority of manufacturers encourage monthly testing to make sure your CO alarms are working like they should. Just press and hold the Test button for 5 to 20 seconds, wait for the alarm to begin and let go of the button. You should hear two short beeps, see a flash or both. If the detector doesn’t function as it’s supposed to, change the batteries or replace the unit outright.
    • Swap out the batteries: If you have battery-powered models, swap out the batteries every six months. If you favor hardwired devices with a backup battery, replace the battery once a year or when the alarm is chirping, whichever comes first. Then, install new carbon monoxide alarms every 10 years or whenever the manufacturer suggests.

Arrange Annual Furnace Maintenance

Many appliances, like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and clothes dryers, could emit carbon monoxide if the equipment is installed improperly or not working as it should. A once-a-year maintenance visit is the only way to know for sure if an appliance is faulty before a leak develops.

A precision tune-up from Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing includes the following:

    • Check the heating appliance for carbon monoxide leaks.
    • Search for any troubling concerns that might lead to unsafe operation.
    • Assess additional spaces where you could benefit from setting up a CO detector.
    • Tune up your system so you know your heating and cooling is functioning at peak safety and productivity.

Contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing

If your gas furnace, boiler or water heater has sprung a CO leak, or you want to stop leaks before they happen, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC and plumbing maintenance and repair services help provide a safe, warm home all year-round. Contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office for more details about carbon monoxide safety or to ask for heating services.

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >
indoor air quality icon

Free Indoor Air Quality Consultation

  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

© 2023 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.