During the winter season, carbon monoxide poisoning is more likely to occur in Central Indiana homes. Fuel-burning appliances are being used to keep living spaces warm and homes are tightly sealed to keep heat in, increasing the risk of a leak and exposure indoors. Star Heating & Cooling explains how carbon monoxide occurs and shows you how you can prevent a leak from occurring.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide in the Home

Carbon monoxide is the result of incomplete fuel combustion. This odorless, colorless gas can develop if natural gas, heating oil, wood, charcoal, and other fossil fuels don’t completely burn. 

When installed and used correctly, fuel-burning appliances are generally safe and the risk of a carbon monoxide leak is low. While carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of running a gasoline-powered vehicle, burning charcoal, smoking cigarettes, and combustion within gas appliances, malfunctions, and unsafe usage can increase the risk of carbon monoxide occurring in the home.

Common sources of carbon monoxide leaks in a house include:

  • Faulty installation of gas, coal, wood, or oil appliances
  • Poor maintenance of fuel-burning appliances
  • Poor ventilation while using fuel-burning appliances
  • Blocked flue pipes or chimneys
  • Running vehicles in attached garages
  • Using certain cleaning chemicals and paint thinners in closed spaces

Ways to Reduce the Risk of a Carbon Monoxide Leak

To limit the likelihood of carbon monoxide this winter, follow these tips and keep your family safe.

1. Have Your Heating System Professionally Maintained

Gas and oil furnaces and boilers should be professionally serviced once per year. Schedule your heating system maintenance tune up in the fall, before it’s time to use the system come winter. Blocked flues, cracked heat exchangers, and other system damage can cause the furnace or boiler to leak carbon monoxide – these issues can be caught and corrected during professional maintenance.

2. Have Your Chimney Professionally Inspected and Cleaned

If you’ll be using your fireplace this winter, have the chimney inspected by a professional annually. This inspection will ensure the chimney is in good condition and properly functioning for good ventilation. Inspection will also detect creosote buildup and if your chimney is in need of cleaning to prevent possible chimney fires. 

3. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

While the presence of alarms won’t prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide in the home, they will help reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning for your family. A carbon monoxide alarm will sound when certain levels of carbon monoxide gas are detected in the home. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, and place them just outside sleeping areas. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, test the alarms monthly, and replace them every 5 to 7 years.

4. Do Not Run Vehicles in Closed Attached Garages

If you have an attached garage, do not let your vehicle idle in the garage without opening the overhead door. Do not turn your vehicle on until the overhead door has been opened. It’s best to pull your vehicle out of the garage and close the overhead door, allowing it to idle and warm up outside which minimizes the risk of carbon monoxide in the home. 

5. Don’t Operate Fuel-Powered Appliances and Grills Inside or Near Enclosed Areas

Gas-powered generators should not be operated inside the home. Do not use charcoal grills or camp stoves inside the house. Fuel-burning equipment should be operated outside at least 20 feet away from any windows or doors leading into an enclosed space.

Heat Your Home Safely This Winter

Don’t risk leaving your family exposed to carbon monoxide in the home. Help to protect your loved ones from the symptoms of CO poisoning by giving your system the maintenance it requires.

Schedule your annual furnace tune up with Star Heating & Cooling today and our professional technicians will provide the service you need to heat your home safely this season.