Tag Archives: dangers of carbon monoxide

4 Simple Steps to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Winter

Two residential heat pumps buried in snow.

Proper airflow is crucial to a furnace working properly. Without proper airflow, your furnace may have problems starting. It could also lead to more dangerous situations like Carbon Monoxide leaks inside your home.

Carbon Monoxide is a silent and deadly killer. It’s an odorless, colourless and tasteless gas. It is produced when fuels are burned. The danger is increased when that combustion is not properly ventilated or when the Carbon Monoxide can’t dissipate due to a blockage.

Symptoms caused by Carbon Monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with symptoms of the flu. And with the flu being more common during the winter months, it makes it even more crucial to checking your furnace’s airflow during these months.

Symptoms of low Carbon Monoxide exposure may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Impairment of motor functions
  • Headaches
  • Having trouble thinking
  • Chest pain

Symptoms of high Carbon Monoxide exposure may include

  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death can occur within minutes

It’s important to follow these steps after each snowfall in the winter to make sure your furnace runs properly.

  1. Inside your home, go to your furnace and look for white or black plastic pipes and note the spot where they exit through the wall. These are the intake and exhaust pipes.
  2. Now, go outside and find the location of where you saw the pipes exit to on the exterior of your home. Frequently, they are located near the ground, by the foundation, but sometimes, the pipes are located near the roof and you may need a ladder to access them.
  3. Ideally, the pipes should have a clear surrounding area of 3 feet. Examine this area to make sure it is clear of snow, ice build-up, leaves, dirt and other debris that could block the flow of air. Make sure to look inside the pipes as well in case there is something obstructing the inside.
  4. If you do find any obstructions, remove them. Once the pipes are cleared, your furnace should start right away if you were having issues with it starting. If it doesn’t, there should be instructions on how to start it located near the access panel or the furnace itself.
  5. If the furnace still doesn’t start, then there is a separate issue that needs to be looked at or there is still an obstruction causing the issue.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Part 2: How To Detect Leaks In A Home

The most dangerous aspect of carbon monoxide is that it so prevalent, and yet, so hard to detect. In colder climates such as Canada, most homes have some type of furnace or heating system that uses a fuel that can produce carbon monoxide, making it a concern for almost everyone. Since there is no way to see, taste or smell this poisonous gas, it is important to know how to detect a leak in your home to protect you and your family from harm.

Signs Of A Carbon Monoxide Leak
Although the best way to detect carbon monoxide is with detectors throughout your home, you should still be aware of other signs. Although this gas is poisonous, you will have personal symptoms you as well as environment changes that can alert to danger before it is too late. All members of the household should be aware of these signs to protect their safety.

- Body symptoms: When your body first begins to encounter carbon monoxide, it will give you warning by having symptoms of toxicity. These can include headaches, flu-like symptoms, nausea, feeling light-headed, drowsy or a burning sensation in the eyes. It is similar to being exposed to other gases that have an odor or color such as paint fumes or smoke. Those with poor health are usually affected the quickest.
- Changes in home: Even if you cannot smell carbon monoxide, there are physical signs to look for. You may smell gas when your furnace or other fuel-burning appliances are turned on. The air may seem stale or stagnant. The color of the pilot light can change form blue to yellow or orange, or may go out altogether. Look for condensation or moisture on walls or windows.

The best cure for carbon monoxide poisoning is prevention. Make sure your fuel burning appliances are well maintained and that you have working carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of your home. Do not let this silent killer hurt you or one of your family members.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Part 1: Why You Should Be Concerned

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is all too common, especially during the winter months when fuel is used to keep our homes warm. It is estimated that almost 90% of homes have some type of carbon monoxide source within them, making it a concern for most Canadians. This toxic gas is formed from the burning of carbon fuels such as wood, charcoal, natural gas, oil and propane. Most home heating systems, except electric, have the potential for carbon monoxide leaks.

Why Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
Carbon Monoxide is known as a silent killer. It is a tasteless, odorless and colorless gas that is difficult to detect without a warning device. Once this gas is breathed into the body, it poisons the body by replacing needed oxygen and blocking oxygen to our vital organs, often resulting in disability or death. It can happen when a family is sleeping, quietly poisoning them before they even know they are in danger.

Any appliance or heating system that uses a carbon-based fuel can be a possible source of carbon monoxide. However, most are completely safe as long as they are well ventilated and properly maintained. All appliances and heating systems that use oil, gas, wood or other types of carbon fuel should be inspected and serviced at least once a year to ensure that they are in good working order. This includes wood burning furnaces and chimneys.

In addition to annual inspections, every home should have a carbon monoxide detector. These devices should be located on all levels in a home, especially outside of sleeping areas. Make sure they are in areas that are not blocked by any furniture or anything else that may hinder their access to the air you breathe. These detectors should also be inspected and maintained regularly according to their owner manuals to ensure that they are working properly as well.