Heating and Cooling

Carbon Monoxide Facts

What is Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; running an internal combustion engine; and burning candles, fuel oil, wood, kerosene, natural gas, and propane may produce carbon monoxide. High levels of carbon monoxide can be produced when fuels are burned incompletely.

Where do high levels of Carbon Monoxide come from?

High levels of carbon monoxide can be generated by internal combustion engines or by appliances that are defective or improperly installed or maintained. Carbon monoxide can also enter a home if an appliance venting system or chimney becomes blocked (for example, by a bird’s nest).

Carbon Monoxide can be deadly!

High levels of carbon monoxide can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu like symptoms. In extreme cases, high levels of or extended exposure to carbon monoxide can result in brain damage or death. Young children; the elderly; people with heart disease; and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication are particularly susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Reduce the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The best way to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a qualified service technician check your appliances and venting systems annually, preferable before the heating season begins. Other important measures include:

  • Keep chimneys, flues, and vents free of debris such as leaves and animal nests.
  • Keep chimneys, and vents free of snow and ice.
  • Consider installing a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home.
  • Never use portable heaters indoors, unless they are designed and approved for indoor use.
  • Never use a barbecue grill (propane or charcoal) indoors for cooking or heating.
  • Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage.
  • Always open the chimney flue damper when you use your fireplace.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and use of vent-free appliances, including fireplaces and logs.
  • Never run an internal combustion engine such as your car, lawn mower, generator, or snow blower in enclosed areas such as your garage.

Keep Furnace Vents Clear of Snow and Ice

With the winter season upon us, make sure to keep furnace vents free of snow, ice and frost.

Even if the furnace is still running, its vent could be partially blocked this could cause poor efficiency and/or carbon monoxide issues.  Many furnaces have built in safety mechanism that will shut the furnace down without proper ventilation. 

It is always recommended to have an active carbon monoxide alarm in the home.

When inspecting the furnace vents, make sure to look inside the vent pipe to make sure it is not blocked inside the pipe. 

Same as furnace vents, gas regulators can malfunction due to frost, ice or snow buildup.  This can cause poor efficiency or complete shut down as well.