Carbon Monoxide & Gas Safety Tips

The number of carbon monoxide alarms in homes has increased in recent years, but it's important to know the signs of carbon monoxide hazards in your home.

carbon monoxide detector

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause serious health problems if undetected. Carbon monoxide is harmful because it can rapidly accumulate in the blood, depleting the ability of blood to carry oxygen.

What are Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to the flu. You may suffer from headaches, nausea, general lethargy, dizziness, or flu-like symptoms that appear to get better when you are away from the area.

What are Sources of Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of burning fossil fuels, including natural gas, oil, propane, and wood. In your home, a fireplace or a furnace can be sources of carbon monoxide, but if installed properly and maintained regularly, they will produce very little as a by-product.

Carbon monoxide becomes an issue if your venting is blocked or your heating equipment is damaged. In the case of furnaces, a defective heat exchanger can be a source of carbon monoxide. The danger arises if carbon monoxide leaks out of a faulty heat exchanger, mixes with the air generated by the furnace, and is pushed into your vents throughout your home.

How do I Prevent Carbon Monoxide in My Home?

The most important action you can take to detect carbon monoxide is ensuring you have carbon monoxide detectors inside your home. It is recommended to have one in your basement near heating equipment and on the main and/or second level of your home.

Here are some additional carbon monoxide prevention tips to keep your family and home safe:

  • Have a qualified technician inspect and clean fuel-burning appliances yearly before the cold weather sets in to ensure they are in good working order.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect chimneys and vents yearly for cracks, blockages (e.g., bird's nests, twigs, old mortar), corrosion, or holes.
  • Check fireplaces for closed or blocked flues.
  • Check with a qualified technician before enclosing heating and hot water equipment in a smaller room to ensure adequate air for proper combustion.
  • Never use propane or natural gas stove tops or ovens to heat your home.
  • Note: These tips are suggested as general practices. However, actual results may vary.