14 Mar Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide
Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is called “the silent killer.” It is an
odorless, colorless gas that’s a by-product of gas combustion. CO can
cause illness or death before you’re aware of its presence.
Fortunately, with good ventilation and well maintained, properly
adjusted gas and wood burning appliances, the chances are good you will
have little to fear from carbon monoxide.
Unfortunately, many homeowners neglect appliance maintenance, which can
be fatal. According to the U.S. EPA’s James Raub, CO may cause more
than half of all fatal poisonings. “Fatal cases,” claimed Raub in the
journal, Toxicology, “Also are grossly under-reported or misdiagnosed
by medical professionals.”
Where CO Comes From
To start, background levels of carbon monoxide are always
present in the atmosphere. Some occurs naturally from volcanic activity
and forest fires. Automobile and industrial emissions also contribute
to background levels.
In the home, carbon monoxide can come from tobacco smoke,
unvented gas space heaters and appliances, and automobile, lawn mower,
generator, and other small engine exhaust that enters the home. You can
minimize these risks by avoiding the indoor use of unvented appliances,
by leaving your garage open when your car is running (and by not
leaving the engine on while the car is in the garage), by starting and
stopping small gas engines outside of the garage, and by locating gas
generators outside away from doors, windows, or vents. Carbon monoxide
can also occur in the home when a gas appliance’s flue is improperly
sized, becomes disconnected, or the flue becomes partially restricted.
A bird nest in the wrong place, for example, may become deadly. Flues
should be checked at the start of each heating season.
Another potential source of carbon monoxide is your home’s
furnace. Heat sections should be checked each fall to ensure the heat
exchanger is leak free. Additionally, properly adjusted burners not
only mean more efficient operation, but less risk of carbon monoxide
resulting from incomplete combustion.
Back drafting occurs when the pressure inside the house is
less than the pressure outside the house and the exhaust from natural
drafting gas appliances is sucked back into the house. Backdrafting is
more of an issue today than the past due to tighter construction
standards. A bathroom fan may be enough to create negative pressure in
a tightly sealed house.
Back drafting can also result from leaking return air duct
work, wood burning fireplaces (a fire can pull several hundred cubic
feet of air out of the house each minute, causing appliances to
backdraft), high wind conditions that result in high pressure on the
windward side of the house and low pressure on the downwind side, and
You can minimize the potential for back drafting by installing
modern, energy efficient gas furnaces, wood stoves, and water heaters
that feature sealed combustion systems. Sealed combustion appliances
draw outside air for combustion and exhaust combustion by-products
outdoors. Since indoor air is not used for combustion, back drafting is
not a concern.
Another option is power vented furnaces or water heaters.
These products use indoor air for combustion, but use a fan to exhaust
combustion by-products outside.
Everyone Recommends Annual Heating System Maintenance
There’s a reason virtually every utility, consumer group,
government agency, and consumer publication recommends annual heating
system maintenance. Good maintenance can save the lives of you and your
family. A heating professional should check for leaks in the heat
exchanger, adjust the burners, clean and check the venting system, and
A heating system combustion safety inspection and tune-up is
virtually free. The adjustments that ensure you receive a clean burn
also save energy. Over the course of the heating season, the energy
savings can easily exceed the cost of the tune-up.
An efficient, well-maintained heating system is also an
environmentally friendly system. Since you save money on utilities,
tune-ups are like buying carbon credits from yourself.
There are many good reasons for getting a tune-up now and none
for waiting. Delaying only delays the energy savings. Call us today.