When it comes to our homes, we want to feel protected while we’re inside. We might have a fortified security system, multiple locks on our doors, windows and a fierce guard dog, but none of that will protect against this silent killer, carbon monoxide.
We don’t mean to scare you with the words “silent” or even “killer” but the truth is, those two words describe the danger behind carbon monoxide if not detected. It’s an odorless, colorless gas often formed in the process of incomplete combustion of organic substances.
The rate of carbon monoxide poisoning in Atlanta homes has dramatically risen over the last decade, as homeowners never even knew about how the harmful gas was produced.
Where does it come from?
Well, the common sources of carbon monoxide (CO) in homes includes fuel-burning devices like furnaces, gas or kerosene space heaters, boilers, gas cooking stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers, fireplaces, charcoal grills, wood stoves, lawn mowers, power generators, camp stoves, motor vehicles and even some power tools.
Smoking can even produce carbon monoxide and when smoking inside, it can be toxic to others breathing that smoke in.
Why is it harmful inside my home?
Just like with any other harmful gas, breathing in carbon monoxide interferes with normal oxygen intake. The gas is especially harmful because it has no odor, color or taste, leaving us unaware that it is even inside of our homes.
It’s estimated that unintentional CO exposure is responsible for around 500 deaths in the United States each year. However, carbon monoxide poisoning contributes to more than 2,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
Many of those deaths occur while the person is asleep because they’re unaware they’re being poisoned, hence the name “silent killer”.
Studies also show even if there are low levels of carbon monoxide in your home, breathing it in over a long period of time can cause other illness too. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and irregular breathing.
Does your home have a carbon monoxide Problem?
As stated above, carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless and colorless, so you might ask, “How do I know then if my home has a carbon monoxide problem?”
Well, all homes have some level of CO inside of them but most levels are extremely low and have no impact on someone’s health. But once those levels rise, you’ll want to make sure you pay attention to these signs that could make you aware of carbon monoxide build-up in your home:
- Rusting of water streaking on vent/chimney
- Loose or missing furnace panels
- Excessive soot in chimney/vents
- Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections
- Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace or appliances
- Loose masonry on chimneys
- Moisture inside of windows
How can I protect my family from carbon monoxide poisoning?
This might be the most important question to ask even if you have no reason to believe there might be carbon monoxide inside your home. Being proactive can greatly reduce your chances of exposing your family to carbon monoxide inside your home.
Make sure fuel-burning appliances are vented properly.
The problem with many homes are that they’re not properly vented, which causes the exhaust (fumes) from running your appliance to vent into your home or wherever possible. That exhaust has extremely high levels of carbon monoxide. Once inside your home, it stays there until it finds a way to escape.
Homes with fuel-burning appliances are more likely to have CO problems as opposed to those without fuel-burning appliances. Many problems occur when appliances and their vents are improperly installed or have been damaged over time. Using a company like Anytime Heating and Cooling in Atlanta to fix those damages can reduce your chances of CO poisoning.
You’ll want to make sure you maintain your appliances vents, clearing them of anything that could block the flow of exhaust or repair any holes in vents that could cause exhaust to leak into your living area.
Install carbon monoxide detection systems in your home
These could be considered your family’s lifesaver! Having a few of these detectors throughout your home will alert you if levels of carbon monoxide become extremely high. Many begin to beep regularly when levels start to rise, warning you before it’s too late.
In northern states, the need for these detectors is crucial. Some states like Minnesota require that homes have at least one operational CO alarm within ten feet of every room used for sleeping. Because many of the homes in those northern states get large amounts of snow, that snow can easily block outdoor furnace vents that release furnace exhaust. The exhaust then is back-channeled into the home causing alarming levels of carbon monoxide.
State laws may differ depending on where you live but many health agencies always urge homeowners to invest in detectors so families are protected from the dangerous gas.
Everyone is at Risk
No one is immune to carbon monoxide poisoning regardless of where you live. However, some people are at greater risk of CO poisoning including the elderly, children and women who are pregnant.
The key to life is being proactive and preventing death. You might spend a few hundred dollars on CO detectors or repairs to a furnace vent but it’s far less expensive than planning a funeral or paying for hospital costs. Being proactive in this situation can save your loved ones life!
For more information on keeping your air safe and clean, call Anytime Heating and Cooling at 770-504-5881!