A stealthy threat, carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and many are unaware of its presence in their home until it’s too late. Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the ER due to carbon monoxide exposure, and more than 400 do not survive. The good news is that you can take steps to protect yourself and your family.
Can HVAC Cause Carbon Monoxide?
Malfunctioning HVAC systems are among the most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your unit is improperly installed, damaged, or inadequately vented, this potentially-deadly gas can invade your home.
How Do I Know If My Furnace Is Leaking Carbon Monoxide?
A carbon monoxide detector is the best way to be alerted if your furnace (or any other appliance) emits this deadly gas. Other telltale signs of a problem are when your pilot light blows out frequently, excessive condensation on windows near your furnace, or brown or yellow stains on walls near the heating unit. Have your system checked right away if you smell gas or something burning near your furnace or coming through your vents, as these are often accompanied by carbon monoxide.
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure feel like the flu: dizziness, headache, weakness, upset stomach, and vomiting. You may also experience chest pain, confusion, shortness of breath, or blurred vision.
Symptoms can become acute after only an hour or two of exposure. Long-term, low-level exposure can result in neurological symptoms like a general feeling of weakness or difficulty thinking or concentrating. Carbon monoxide exposure can lead to severe illness or death if not treated promptly. Seek fresh air and call 9-1-1 or a medical professional if you suspect exposure to carbon monoxide. Don’t forget to remove any companion animals from the premises, as they are not immune to carbon monoxide exposure.
Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning If Your Furnace Is Off?
Any fuel-burning device can cause carbon monoxide in your home. As long as there’s a flame – even a pilot light – carbon monoxide gas can be produced, especially if your furnace is in a poorly vented area. It’s less likely this gas will accumulate when your furnace is off, but it is still possible. If another appliance, like a water heater or gas fireplace, is emitting carbon dioxide, the gas can circulate throughout your home via your HVAC duct system.
Carbon monoxide also can enter your home when you run a motor vehicle inside the garage or use anything with a gas-powered engine within 20 feet of your home. Carbon monoxide can enter through vents, open windows or doors, or a window air-conditioning unit.
Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips
Carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable. The best thing you can do to keep your family safe is to purchase a carbon monoxide detector and change the batteries every six months. If you have a wired detector, make sure it has a battery backup in case of power outages.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide in your home, have your HVAC system professionally installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and comply with local building codes. If you do not know whether or not your system was installed correctly, arrange for a technician to inspect it. After that, have your HVAC system inspected and serviced annually to ensure that it is working correctly and clear all vents. Don’t forget to have other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances checked.
Call Tragar Express For All of Your Heating Needs
Ensure your family stays comfortable with oil deliveries from Tragar Express. We deliver environmentally-friendly Biofuel® to homeowners in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. We offer a full range of oil and gas heat system services, including repairs, upgrades, and maintenance. To schedule a COD oil delivery or other services, call Tragar Express today at (516) 221-2559.