Carbon monoxide is like a horrible movie villain. Nicknamed the “silent killer” for a good reason, Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas. This dangerous gas cannot be noticed without a detector or meter in your house. CO leads to accidental deaths of up to 500 people each year in the USA, and poisons many more. Carbon monoxide poisoning prevents your body from being able to get the oxygen it needs.
Your family’s safety is our top priority, so we’ve outlined everything homeowners need to know about carbon monoxide to stay healthy and reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you suspect that you or someone else has CO poisoning, go immediately to an area with fresh air and call 911.
Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide in Your Home
Carbon monoxide is present in both outdoor and indoor air, but generally at very low levels. CO is a by-product of combustion that is produced when carbon-containing fuels burn incompletely. There are many areas of your home that could possibly be a source of CO.
- Home heating systems. Fuel-burning systems like boilers, furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, gas and kerosene heaters, and gas and wood stoves should receive routine maintenance to ensure there are no problems that could cause CO to leak.
- Tools and equipment. Things like lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, pressure washers, and portable generators can emit carbon monoxide and should never be operated in enclosed spaces like a garage.
- Vehicles and boats. When your car runs, it releases CO in its exhaust pipe, which is why you should never leave your vehicle idling in a garage or other place without proper ventilation. You should also be aware of your boat’s exhaust outlets are and keep away from them when the boat is in use.
Common CO Myths and Facts
Myth: You can smell carbon monoxide.
CO is undetectable to a human nose. The gas is colorless, tasteless, and also odorless. You will need a detector or meter to determine its presence. When people say they can “smell carbon monoxide” coming from their furnace or other device, it is actually another chemical byproduct of combustion. However, if you notice any smells coming from your furnace, it could be signs of a problem and should be checked out by a professional.
Don’t let these odors unchecked. For more information about HVAC appliance safety, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling today. We’ve served homeowners in the Metro-East area since 1951.
Myth: Carbon monoxide is the same as CO2
Luckily, no! Although they are often confused Carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) have a different chemical makeup. Carbon dioxide is what makes your soda bubbly and is what you’re breathing out right now! Both gases are odorless and colorless, and can be poisonous if inhaled.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide in your home can be a dangerous and even deadly situation. The good news is, there are steps you can take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning!
- All fuel-burning appliances (e.g. furnaces, boilers, water heaters) are inspected by a trained professional each year. In the Metro-East, Illinois area, Ernst can take care of this.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and professionally fitted for your home. The typical lifespan for these is 6 years, so be sure to test them regularly and get them replaced as needed.
- If you get any new fuel-burning systems, make sure you hire a professional to ensure safe and proper installation. These systems must have proper ventilation and be regularly serviced according to manufacturers’ instructions.
Ernst Heating & Cooling has been providing safe heating and cooling system repair, maintenance, and installation in the Metro-East for over half a century. Call Ernst, the professionals you can trust!