Carbon Monoxide and Your Home

May 14, 2024

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a type of gas created during the combustion process. This gas can have harmful effects on humans and animals, ranging from discomfort and illness to a serious risk of death. Each year, as many as 30,000 Americans fall ill due to carbon monoxide exposure, and 500 people lose their lives following severe CO poisoning. This exposure and poisoning is most often completely unintentional, as carbon monoxide is undetectable by the human senses and exposure to high levels of CO can induce fatigue and loss of consciousness. Understanding the risk CO poses to your family and the importance of carbon monoxide detectors can help you take steps to protect your family from the preventable health effects of this gas in your home.

How CO Is Produced

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion. It is produced by a variety of appliances and systems in your home, including your furnace, your fireplace, your boiler, any gas appliances, and even your car. When used properly and kept in good repair, these appliances and systems create only minimal levels of CO, which are vented to the outdoors to prevent high concentrations from developing inside your home. However, when ventilation fails or these systems are not working properly due to poor maintenance or damage, CO can accumulate inside your home, posing a serious health risk.

How CO Is Harmful

When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it takes the place of oxygen molecules in the blood. This process affects the function of the body, leading to illness, unconsciousness, and even death. Mild CO poisoning can cause symptoms that include shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, and blurred vision. Higher levels of CO can lead to confusion and loss of consciousness, which may cause brain damage or death when leaving the area where CO has accumulated becomes impossible.

How CO Is Detected

CO is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, making it impossible to detect with human senses. Carbon monoxide detectors are electronic devices that work much like smoke detectors and can be placed throughout your home to detect the accumulation of carbon monoxide. These detectors can be installed individually and operate on batteries, or hooked into your home’s electrical system and function in tandem by sounding an alarm on all networked detectors as soon as one detector is triggered. Carbon monoxide detectors provide your family with an audible warning in the case of CO accumulation, giving you the chance to vacate your home and call for help to handle the situation; these detectors can also wake you while you are sleeping, which is when your family is most vulnerable to CO poisoning. Experts recommend installing at least one CO detector on each floor of your home, with additional detectors located near gas appliances such as furnaces and stoves. These detectors should be tested regularly and checked during your biannual HVAC tune-up visits to ensure they are working properly.

Our home heating and cooling experts can help you evaluate the CO risks in your home and keep your HVAC appliances in good shape with regular maintenance and repairs to minimize the chances of CO buildup. We can also help you install and check carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to provide the warning you need in case of an emergency. Please stop by our website to learn more about our complete HVAC services in Detroit, or click through our blog to find out more about the parts of your HVAC system and how to keep your family safe and comfortable all year, every year.

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Last Updated: June 04, 2024