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Carbon Monoxide Dangers

Our homes are filled with fuel burning appliances. In addition to fireplaces, most people also have stoves, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, grills, vehicles, or generators they use on a regular basis. Because all of these appliances burn a fuel source, they also all create carbon monoxide.

Most appliances that are not damaged or defective in any way have an extremely low risk of sending excess carbon monoxide into the home. If left unrepaired or unmaintained, however, these appliances can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.


What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It is produced in combustion reactions, meaning that appliances burning wood, gas, kerosene, coal, pellets, and other fuel sources all create it. Carbon monoxide is also referred to as the “silent killer” because it is nearly impossible to detect without special equipment.

While fireplaces are an obvious source of carbon monoxide gas in the home, there are a number of other household appliances that produce it. Carbon monoxide is created by cars and grills, as well as stoves, boilers, and furnaces. When correctly installed and maintained, these appliances are designed to vent the carbon monoxide to the outside of your home so as to not impact interior air quality.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

When exposed to carbon monoxide, most people will begin to develop flu-like symptoms. In small amounts of after a short period of time, this may include headache, nausea, and fatigue. If exposure continues or if there is a higher concentration of carbon monoxide, symptoms will continue to persist and get worse. Many people begin to experience neurological symptoms such as impaired vision, impaired coordination, or dizziness as well as shortness of breath.

In extremely high concentrations or if a person is exposed for a long period of time, carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to coma and death. In the United States, as many as 400 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are in close proximity to an in-use fuel burning appliance such as a fireplace and believe that you are experiencing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, move immediately to a fresh air location before calling emergency services.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is by keeping all fuel burning appliances well maintained and making repairs as soon as possible. In addition, there are also a number of common sense tips that homeowners can follow to reduce their risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.

  • Do not use an oven or stove as a heating source, such as leaving the open on with the door cracked
  • Never leave a vehicle idling in a garage, even if the door is open
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of the home, especially near sleeping spaces. Test alarms at least twice per year and replace batteries as needed.
  • Do not use grills near open windows or in enclosed spaces such as a garage
  • Inspect interior and exterior ductwork and vents of fuel burning appliances for signs of damage or blockages
  • Do not run generators in enclosed spaces such as basements, sheds, or garages

By using your fuel burning appliances responsibly and keeping them well maintained, homeowners can greatly reduce their risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have questions about how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today.

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