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What You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide!

Posted by Emergency Response

Aug 19, 2013 6:55:00 AM

What You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide!

Carbon Monoxide

© Depositphotos.com/krisrobin

Most people have at least heard of carbon monoxide poisoning, and may even have installed detectors in their house. However, many people don't know much beyond the fact that carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that can build up in houses. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is created when different fuels are burnt, but not burnt completely. Propane, natural gas, wood, coal, charcoal, oil, and kerosene can all cause the gas to build up. Internal combustion engines, such as generators and cars also produce it.

While carbon monoxide poisoning isn't one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with only 170 people dying of it every year from non automotive sources, it's entirely preventable. Several thousand people have to go to the emergency room every year for carbon monoxide poisoning.

What Can I Do?

The first thing anyone should do is make sure to install a CO alarm that meets all safety standards. There should be an alarm near any sleeping areas and they must not be covered by fabrics or furniture. After that, the best thing you can do is to make sure that your appliances are installed correctly. Always make sure to have a professional take care of your HVAC appliances, as they are the most likely to cause a CO buildup in your home.

You should also regularly have your appliances inspected and serviced by an HVAC professional every year. Do not attempt to service your equipment on your own, as that can cause CO buildup in your home.

What are the Symptoms?

The reason installing a CO alarm in your house is so important is because it is impossible to detect carbon monoxide without one. The gas is entirely colorless and odorless, meaning you could be exposed and not even know it. The early symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath. Extreme exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to loss of consciousness, mental confusion, vomiting, loss of coordination, and possibly death.

What If My Alarm Goes Off?

The moment your CO alarm goes off, you need to move outside and call 911. Do not re-enter the building for any reason until cleared by the emergency team.

Keeping your HVAC appliances properly serviced is the first step towards preventing CO poisoning in your home, but it can still happen to anyone. Make sure your alarms are properly set up at all times.

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Topics: cm, what is carbon monoxide, effects of carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide effects, symptoms of carbon monoxide, carbon monoxide symptoms, carbon monoxide detector, carbon monoxide poisoning, carbon monoxide detectors, carbon monoxide

How to Detect a Carbon Monoxide Leak!

Posted by Emergency Response

Jan 30, 2012 10:40:00 AM

Here's How to Detect a Carbon Monoxide Leak!

Carbon Monoxide Leak!


© Depositphotos.com/Goodluz

Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous gas and, if undetected, can quickly suffocate the inhabitants of home. It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Furthermore, an actual leak causes a wide variety of non-specific symptoms that may seem in no way related to the real problem. Both these issues make the detection of a carbon monoxide (CO) leak problematic.

The Problem

A carbon monoxide leak is usually produced when an natural gas or fuel oil system in the home is not functioning properly. The appliances are designed to efficiently and thoroughly burn the fuels creating carbon dioxide and water vapor. Incomplete combustion results in the production of carbon monoxide. 

Major contributors to carbon monoxide in the home are:

  • Furnaces
  • Hot Water Heaters
  • Space Heaters
  • Fireplaces
  • Gas Generators
  • Auto Exhaust

Not only is it important that each of these appliances be working properly but they must also be adequately ventilated.


In the past, the detection of a carbon monoxide leak was difficult, tiresome and, in many instances, impossible. Fortunately, modern technology has produced a solution to this formerly intractable problem, the carbon monoxide (CO) detector. There are several types of CO detector on the market that afford varying degrees of protection and price points.

The simpler ones only provide a visual clue that there is CO present and must be checked regularly. Unfortunately, they produce no audible warning. The more expensive models operate on A/C power with a battery backup. They utilize the specific chemical properties of various substrates and their interactions with oxygen and CO that results in a electrochemical change triggering an audible alarm.

Keep in mind when purchasing CO detectors that they look very similar to your standard smoke detector and some manufacturers sell smoke/CO detector combinations as well. Just don't make the mistake of buying a smoke detector when your trying to buy a CO detector.

Lastly, professional licensed plumbing and heating contractors have hand helded CO detectors. When the contractor works on one of your appliances, they may use the CO detector to confirm there is no CO being released into your home from that appliance.


In general, CO detectors are extremely sensitive and must be properly positioned to provide adequate protection without a large number of false alarms. Much of today’s current CO detector research is aimed at solving this problem.

Carbon monoxide detectors can be positioned any where in a room, even behind furniture, as CO has approximately the same density as air.

Basic installation guidelines include:

One CO detector per bedroom (inside room or right outside bedroom door)

One in the common hallway

One on each floor of your home including your basement

One in an attached garage

Keep detectors at least five feet away from a source/appliance

Battery backup is essential

The use of CO detectors is now mandatory is most states. This deadly gas knows no boundaries and kills indiscriminately. It should be a priority for any home owner that has any type of fuel burning system in his home.

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The opinions and statements contained in these articles are for general informational purposes only. In our professional opinion only trained, licensed and experienced contractors should attempt installations and/or repairs. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in these articles. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on these articles does so at their own risk of loss.