Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas and is less dense than the air around us. It is toxic to all animals that contain hemoglobin, including humans, when its concentration is above 35 ppm. CO is produced in normal animal metabolism in low amounts and is thought to have normal biological functions.
Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. Home appliances that use natural gas, oil, propane, or even wood, produce CO. If such appliances are not installed, maintained and used properly, the level of CO may rise in the house. An increase in the amount of CO is dangerous and can prove to be deadly and toxic. Each year, nearly 5,000 people in the United States are treated in hospital emergency rooms for CO poisoning; a large proportion of which is due to long exposure to CO through appliance malfunctioning. Over 1,000,000 homes experience high levers of CO each year.
In the US, 27 states and the District of Columbia require carbon monoxide detectors in private dwellings via state statute: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia (via adoption of the International Residential Code), Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Certain states limit the installation to buildings with fossil-fuel burning devices, others only require the device to be installed upon the sale of the property or unit. In Canada many of the Provinces have similar legislation including Ontraio where failure to have a CO detector can results in significant fines up to $50,000.
Since CO gas has no warning signs, even at toxic or life-threatening levels, it is considered a ‘silent killer.’ And because so many deaths occur as the result of defective or poorly operated home heating devices, CO has been termed the “silent, cold weather killer.”
When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce negligible quantities of CO. But improperly operating appliances can produce elevated — even fatal — CO concentrations in your living spaces. Likewise, using kerosene heaters or charcoal grills indoors can cause levels high enough to result in CO poisoning or toxicity.
If a home has proper ventilation and is free from appliance malfunctions, carbon monoxide is likely to be vented towards the outside, safely. However, in today’s modern and ‘energy efficient’ homes, this is not the case. New homes are seal tightly which can trap CO and pollute the air in the house.
In furnaces, the heat exchangers can crack and the air vents may get blocked due to a delay in appliance repair. In such a situation, there is an inadequate air supply which can cause ‘backdrafts’, which is basically the force that drives contaminated air into the home environment.
Gas appliances should be serviced by a professional appliance repair service. Stove burners should be cleaned and adjusted to keep the level of carbon monoxide in check. Before making any changes that might affect the ventilation of fuel burning devices, contact a home appliance repairman to ensure that the appliance is designed to reduce dangers caused by the toxicity of CO. Exhaust fans on range hoods, cloth dryers and bathroom fans can also pull combustion byproduct into the home, increasing the amount of CO in your house.
To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, proper installation is critical for the safe operation of combustion appliances. Before installing any device, ensure that you read all the instructions carefully. All appliances should be installed by professionals.
At HWisel, we have qualified service technicians that can perform preventive maintenance on homes with central and room heating appliances so that you can live without worrying about the toxic emissions of carbon monoxide.
Download our App now on Android or iPhone to get in touch with our trained service professionals and get your furnace repaired right away. To know more about what we do and to receive regular updates, visit hwiseliot.com