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Protecting Your Home from Carbon Monoxide

carbon monoxide

There’s a hidden danger lurking in our homes…a poisonous gas called carbon monoxide. It is referred to as “the silent killer” because it has no odor or color. Carbon monoxide can cause headaches, difficulty breathing, and even death in high concentrations. Protecting your family from the hidden dangers of this poisonous gas is an important responsibility and one that is easily remedied through the use of carbon monoxide detectors.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. It is a combustion byproduct; in other words, it is formed when fossil fuels such as wood, oil, or gas is burned. The gas can enter the home in a number of ways, including:

Fireplaces – older fireplaces that have air leaks in the chimney or poor venting can let carbon monoxide into the home when the fireplace is used. Clogged chimneys, inadequate ventilation, or faulty flues and roof caps can interfere with the safe performance of fireplaces. That cheery roaring fire on a cold winter’s night may harbor dangers!

Oil or gas-fired furnaces – in older homes, heating can come from furnaces that burn fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, or even coal. If the furnace isn’t vented correctly, such as damaged or leaking vent pipes, the heater can generate carbon monoxide in highly toxic levels.

Gas water heaters – just like in furnaces, gas water heaters rely on a system of vent pipes to remove harmful emissions from inside the home. If those vents are clogged or damaged, they can let carbon monoxide into the interior spaces of the home.

How Can I Protect My Family?

The first step to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide is to inspect all fuel-burning appliances carefully. Repair or replace vent pipes that are damaged or leaky. Check the fireplaces to ensure that the chimney is free of obstructions like bird nests or soot buildup.

Next, invest in low-level carbon monoxide detectors. These are small devices that look just like the smoke detectors installed in every home. Some cities require that new homes are fitted with both carbon monoxide AND smoke detectors before they are cleared for residents. If your home doesn’t have one installed, they are readily available at home improvement stores across the country.

Detectors range in price from about $20 to $100 or more. These detectors should be placed on each floor of a home and should be situated near bedrooms so that the home’s residents can be warned in time to avoid trouble. They signal the presence of the gas before it can cause health concerns, helping keep your family safe and giving you peace of mind that no hidden dangers are lurking.

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