Carbon Monoxide Safety
Heating and Air Conditioning
Preventing the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Preventative Maintenance and Safety First
Having a bi-annual inspection performed on your heating and air conditioning system will not only extend the units service life, save energy by maintaining peak performance, but it can ensure your families safety. This is especially important when a gas furnace is your homes source of heat, or other appliances are used that burn fossil fuels.
Due to improper operation and age, rust can form inside a furnace leading to elevated levels of carbon monoxide in your home. The combustion of gas creates water vapor and in an improperly operating furnace this vapor is not properly exhausted through the flue leading to rust on the flue and heat exchanger. This places you and your family at extreme risk ofcarbon monoxide poisoning and death.
Small cracks and holes that develop in the heat exchanger can create risk to your family. This situation requires immediate repair or replacement. The furnace must be disabled, and cannot be operated until the problem is addressed.
Infrequent changing of air filters can lead to dirt buildup in the heat exchanger, causing overheating and can lead to damage that may result in CO leakage into your home as well. Proper maintenance of the HVAC system is important for all of these reasons, the extended life of the unit, reduced energy use by maintaining peak performance and for the safety of the homes occupants.
Other Carbon Monoxide Hazards in the Home
Dryers can develop lint build up creating a fire hazard. A gas dryer has the additional hazard of CO emissions being vented into the home if the vent pipe is plugged with lint or debris. Clean the filter after each use and provide routine cleaning underneath the dryer as well as the complete cleaning of the vent pipe.
A gas stove should have a blue flame. The presence of a yellow flame indicates the need for cleaning of the affected components or of adjustments being required Have a professional inspect and correct the problem.
Have gas water heaters inspected and serviced annually by a professional. This will extend the water heaters life, maintain peak performance and prevent conditions that can lead to higher levels of carbon monoxide in the home.
Attached garages are a risk most homeowners never consider as a potential source of significant CO gas entering the home. If you routinely run a vehicles engine in the garage open the garage door, or install adequate exhaust fans to vent the carbon monoxide outside while car engines run. Recommendations for locating a carbon monoxide detector near the door to an attached garage vary from 10 to 15 ft. Opening the garage door before cranking the vehicle will allow for ventilation and reducing the amounts of CO that can enter a door being opened to the home.
Check weather stripping around the access door entering the home and ensure it is tight and secure, not allowing CO laden exhaust fumes to enter the home. Cracked brick or motor, siding or gaps in the wood of the wall between house and garage can potentially allow CO to enter into the home. Seal any cracks or gaps appropriately with caulking or expanding foam.
Other factors that can provide fire hazards as well as elevations in a home’s carbon monoxide levels can be easily prevented. In the following we will look at risk factors, some of which many people never even consider until it is too late.
- Never operate a charcoal or gas grill inside the home. In like manner, gas operated camp stoves release carbon monoxide and should only be used outside of the home in open air and away from any flammable source.
- Clogged chimneys can not only cause a house fire but can spill CO gas into the home. Even if only partially blocked CO gas can enter into the home. This can be one cause an otherwise unexplained alarming of a CO detector. Have the chimney inspected each year and cleaned professionally.
- Never leave gas or diesel fueled machinery running outside the home near a potential vent entry source into the home such as a chimney, a wall vent, a fresh air exchange, an open window or door, roof vents or any other potential entry into the home. This includes lawn mowers and generators. Each year people die from operating generators inside the home during power outages. Place the generator outside the home in open air, preferably a minimum of 12 feet from the home and do not locate it near any potential avenues of the exhaust entering into the home.
- Use only vented space heaters indoors and always operate the exhaust fan over the stove when cooking.
- If you use a wood stove for heat, whether exclusively or as back up emergency heat, purchase only those that meet EPA emission standards and provide routine inspection to ensure proper operation is maintained. Catalytic convertors can clog, and fairly rapidly with the use of green ‘unseasoned’ wood or the use of wood inappropriate for heating fires such as pine for example. Only use them with an approved metal pad underneath, triple wall pipe and maintain a safe distance between the wood heater and walls. Never locate furniture or combustibles near them. This includes an appropriate clearance of combustible material overhead such as when located in a fireplace. Ensure that appropriate clearance is established to prevent the overheating of objects such as a wooden mantle.
If you require assistance Cypress Heating and Air Conditioning will be happy to help you in the choice and installation of carbon monoxide detectors or the inspection of potential sources of deadly carbon monoxide in your home.
Our certified and experienced HVAC technicians will be happy to provide an inspection and service to your heating and air conditioning system to ensure proper and safe function. Service agreements are available, and should you need a new heating and air conditioning installation, financing options is available to fit almost any budget.
We understand emergencies seldom occur at convenient times, and this is why we provide 24 hour emergency service, 7 days a week for your convenience.
Don’t risk your family’s safety; give the professionals at Cypress Heating and Air Conditioning a call, we will be happy to assist you.