What You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide in your Home

October 12, 2013
Ross and Witmer

You probably inspect your home regularly for safety hazards. But there’s one safety hazard that no regular inspection can uncover–that’s carbon monoxide. You can’t see carbon monoxide. You can’t smell it or taste it. The only way you can easily detect it is with CO detectors. If you don’t already have them, you need them, and once they’re up, they should be checked regularly. Here’s what you need to know about carbon monoxide in your home.

Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?

Any fuel-burning appliance in your home can give off CO. That ranges from your furnace and your hot-water heater to the stove in your kitchen or the kerosene heater you may use in your garage. Most of the time, these appliances give off very little CO, and–with the exception of the kerosene heater–they properly vented. Your exposure is minimal, at worst.

What Happens With High CO Emissions

Any malfunction of a fuel-burning appliance poses a CO risk. A cracked heat exchanger in a furnace, for example, can cause CO emissions. If you don’t have CO detectors, you may not know that there’s a problem until you or members of your family have begun to suffer the symptoms of CO poisoning.

What are those symptoms? You might have blurred vision, headaches, dizziness or confused thinking. You might feel like you’re coming down with the flu. Prolonged or severe exposure can cause personality change, loss of consciousness and seizures. An easy way to detect exposure: If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect CO poisoning, look at your tongue. If it’s cherry-red, you have a problem. Go outside immediately, call 9-1-1 if necessary, and get in touch with your gas company or HVAC-system professional.

CO Detectors

Make sure your CO detectors are in the right spots: on each level of your home, including the basement. You should have one within 10 feet of every bedroom. You should also have one just outside the attached garage. Check the batteries regularly. And remember, most detectors need to be replaced after five years.

Have questions about CO or other air-quality issues in your home? Contact Ross & Witmer. We serve homeowners throughout the Charlotte area.

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