Carbon monoxide, also known as the “silent killer” is a colorless, odorless gas that can present a grave danger to the inhabitants of your home. This gas is often found in homes with gas appliances and heating systems. But if it’s colorless and odorless, how can you know when it’s causing a problem in your home? Keep reading to learn about how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide can be produced any time a fossil fuel, like wood, propane, gasoline, or oil, is burned. During the burning process, if there is an insufficient amount of oxygen present, carbon-containing compounds will fail to create carbon dioxide, and will instead form carbon monoxide. While carbon dioxide is essential for life, carbon monoxide is the opposite.
Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?
Essentially, whenever carbon monoxide enters your body, it competes with the molecules in your body that are responsible for transporting oxygen to your tissues and organs, a.k.a., hemoglobin. When a large amount of carbon monoxide is present, your tissues and organs no longer receive oxygen which can ultimately lead to death. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
How do I know if my home is at risk?
Carbon monoxide is most likely to be found in homes with a heating source, or appliances, that use fossil fuels to operate. Common examples include a gas stove or a propane heater. If your home has an attached garage, that can also be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning in some cases, like if a car is left running while all of the doors are closed. It’s important to know that fuel-burning appliances will always emit a minimal amount of carbon monoxide. These low emissions will not threaten your life or health in any way. It’s when these emissions build up and are leaked in large amounts, that things get dangerous.
How can I avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in my home?
Thankfully, there are several simple precautions you can take to ensure that you keep your home safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
1. Install a carbon monoxide detector.
A carbon monoxide detector is similar to a smoke detector, but instead of warning you about smoke, it detects and warns about carbon monoxide. You can easily purchase and install a carbon monoxide monitor, and they are available in a variety of price points.
Purchasing and installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you peace of mind that if something is awry, you will know right away.
2. Get your appliances inspected.
If you use fossil fuels to power your appliances or to heat your home, make sure to get your appliances and heating system inspected. Carbon monoxide emissions can easily build up in older appliances and systems. You should get your systems checked twice a year, once before summer, and once before winter.
3. Always make sure to turn off your stove/oven.
Regardless of whether your stove is powered via fuel or electricity, you should never leave it one whenever it is not in use. With stoves powered by gas, propane, or wood fire, leaving it on for prolonged periods gives way to large amounts of carbon monoxide emitting into your home, and also dramatically increases your risk of a house fire. You should also never use your stove or oven to heat your home.
4. Be cautious of your space heaters.
Using a space heater can be a cost-effective way of heating your home or small space during the winter, but they can also impose many dangers. Not only are they the cause many house fires during the colder months, but they can also emit carbon monoxide. If you have a fuel-powered space heater, you should only use it in well-ventilated rooms, and never leave it running if you are not present.
If you have any questions about carbon monoxide poisoning or need an inspection, contact Complete Electrical.