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How to Stay Safe from Carbon Monoxide in the Home

In Central Indiana homes using natural gas heat to stay warm this winter, carbon monoxide is a safety concern you must be mindful of. Carbon monoxide (CO) in the home can be deadly, so it is important to know where it comes from, how to limit exposure, and how to discover if your living areas have unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. Star Heating & Cooling shares information to keep you and your loved ones safe this season and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

How Does Carbon Monoxide in the Home Occur?

Carbon monoxide is a gas that results when fuel does not fully burn or combust. Burning natural gas, heating oil, coal, charcoal, and wood can lead to the development of carbon monoxide. Even burning cigarettes can produce this gas byproduct.

While carbon monoxide is a normal byproduct of the combustion process used for cooking and heating, we typically do not experience carbon monoxide in the home due to good ventilation. Fuel-burning furnaces, boilers, wood stoves, and fireplaces are designed to release carbon monoxide and other byproducts outside the home through flues and chimneys. When appliances, chimneys, and flues are in good condition and functioning properly, they are very safe to use in the home.

Carbon monoxide gas in the home commonly results from various sources, including:

  • Faulty fuel-burning appliances like stoves, ovens, and heating units
  • Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces
  • Vehicles running in attached garages
  • Blocked or damaged flues and chimneys

How to Limit Carbon Monoxide Exposure in the Home

Limiting carbon monoxide in the home and the risks associated with exposure involves maintaining fuel-burning equipment and following smart practices when sources of carbon monoxide are in use.

  • Furnaces and boilers should undergo professional maintenance and inspection annually. Faulty components, such as a cracked heat exchanger or damaged flue, can allow carbon monoxide to mix with the air supply and enter the home. Professional service helps identify issues so they can be corrected before putting your family in harm’s way.
  • Fireplace chimneys should be professionally cleaned and inspected yearly. These services help ensure your chimney is unblocked and safe for use, limiting the risk of a blockage that causes a backup of carbon monoxide in the home or fires from occurring in the chimney.
  • Make sure the chimney flue is open before lighting a fire in your fireplace.
  • Have all gas appliances, such as ovens, stoves, and water heaters, inspected by qualified technicians on a yearly basis to ensure they are working properly and are safe to use.
  • Turn exhaust fans or range hoods on whenever using a gas stove or oven to cook. Make sure the exhaust fan or range hood is properly installed and vents outdoors before use.
  • Do not use fuel-burning portable appliances or devices like generators or grills inside the home. 
  • Do not allow your vehicle to run idle in an attached garage, even if the overhead garage door is open and the entry door to your living area is closed.

Why You Need a Detector for Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide has no odor, color, or taste, making it impossible for humans to easily detect. Because of this, carbon monoxide in the home can go undetected and lead to CO poisoning, which is potentially fatal, if carbon monoxide detectors are not installed in the home.

Exposure to carbon monoxide in the home can prevent the body from carrying oxygen, causing cells and tissues to die. Symptoms of mild carbon monoxide exposure can be similar to food poisoning or the flu, making it difficult for people to realize this deadly threat. If carbon monoxide levels are high enough, exposure can lead to death in a matter of minutes.

To protect your loved ones from carbon monoxide in the home, install carbon monoxide detectors following these guidelines:

  • Install a minimum of one carbon monoxide alarm on each level of the home. They should be positioned in a central location outside of sleeping areas where applicable.
  • Follow instructions from the manufacturer regarding where to place and install the CO detector alarm. 
  • Test CO alarms monthly, and replace batteries every 6 months. If a carbon monoxide detector doesn’t complete the test properly, replace the entire unit.
  • Replace carbon monoxide detectors as recommended by the manufacturer, commonly every five to seven years.

Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide in the Home

Star Heating & Cooling is committed to keeping your family safe from carbon monoxide in the home by providing carbon monoxide detector installation. For carbon monoxide detector installation in Central Indiana, call us now.