During the winter season here in St. Louis, our heating and furnace systems keep us warm and comfortable inside our homes. However, the risk of carbon monoxide leaks is greater with the increased use.
According to statistics, approximately 170 people are killed each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. It is important for the safety of your family to understand what carbon monoxide poisoning is and how to prevent it. The following are some important tips from our St. Louis HVAC expert.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. It is highly toxic, and is produced by incomplete combustion of fuels including wood, coal, oil, charcoal, natural gas, and propane. When your water heater or furnace’s burner elements are malfunctioning or dirty, you are at an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The most dangerous thing about carbon monoxide leaks is that they are difficult to detect; carbon monoxide cannot be smelled, seen, or sensed in any way. You will only come to know of a threat after you have started to feel symptoms. The symptoms of carbon monoxide vary depending on the level of exposure. Mild exposure causes flu like symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
Prolonged exposure can cause serious health problems including:
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of muscular coordination
How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- Ensure that all gas burning appliances in your home, including the stove, furnace, and dryer are installed according to building codes and the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have all heating equipment inspected and maintained regularly.
- Do not install or use any equipment with a gasoline engine within a closed space.
- Do not leave a car running in the garage, even if it is well ventilated.
- Some people use aluminum foil to cover the bottom of an oil or gas furnace. Avoid this because it can block air flow and produce carbon monoxide.
- Never use fuel burning camping equipment inside a garage, vehicle, tent, or other enclosed area. If at any time you have to use this equipment inside your home, read the instructions and follow them properly.
- Avoid burning charcoal within enclosed spaces.
Do You Need To Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector In Your Home?
A carbon monoxide detector, along with the above tips, is the best prevention against carbon monoxide poisoning. A carbon monoxide detector alarm will sound off the moment carbon monoxide levels inside your home reach an abnormal level. In addition, regular maintenance of your furnace will provide additional protection for the upcoming winter. Thomas Hoffmann Air Conditioning & Heating LLC, a St. Louis HVAC company with more than 30 years experience, can provide all your HVAC maintenance needs.