25 Apr Carbon Monoxide-What You Need to Know About the Dangers
Carbon Monoxide (CO) from a Poorly Maintained Furnace can be Deadly
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, colourless and odourless poisonous gas often referred to as “the silent killer”. It is produced when fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood, propane and kerosene don′t get enough air to burn up completely. CO itself is odorless and tasteless but it may be accompanied by an abnormal odor of incomplete fuel combustion.
Damaged or blocked venting as well as inadequate air for combustion can allow carbon monoxide to build up inside a home. Always make sure your fuel burning appliances have an adequate air supply to prevent a CO hazard. Make maintenance of your furnace and venting systems by a qualified contractor an absolute priority.
Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness and even loss of consciousness. In severe cases, it can cause brain damage and death. Older persons, housebound people, children, people with heart or respiratory conditions and pets may be more sensitive to it, and feel the effects earlier than others.
What causes a CO hazard?
- Fuel-burning appliances, venting systems and chimneys that haven′t been serviced by a qualified heating contractor.
- A chimney blocked by a bird or squirrel nest, snow and ice or other debris.
- Improper venting of a furnace and cracked furnace heat exchangers.
- Exhaust fumes seeping into your home from a car running in an attached garage.
- Using fuel-burning appliances designed for the outdoors (like BBQs, lanterns, chainsaws, lawnmowers, snowblowers) in a closed area (like a tent, recreational vehicle, cottage, garage, workshop).
- Combustion gases spilling into a home, rather than being exhausted if too much air is being consumed by a fireplace, or exhausted by a kitchen or bathroom fan, in a tightly-sealed house. Your furnace or gas water heater will not exhaust properly if there is negative pressure in the home.
CO alarms can warn you about sudden failure of fuel-burning appliances and are a good second line of defence against CO exposure. At least one (1) CO alarm should be installed at knee-height, adjacent to the sleeping area of your home. You will need more than one alarm, if sleeping areas exist on more than one floor. Unlike smoke, which rises to the ceiling, CO mixes with air. If a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector is used, it should be located on the ceiling to ensure that it will detect smoke effectively. CO alarms should not be installed near fuel burning appliances.
Do I need a carbon monoxide alarm?:
The Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) reminds home owners that it is your responsiblity to properly maintain your boiler or furnace. Annual maintenance, as a minimum, by a qualified contractor is the best method to fulfill this requirement. If you own a natural draft boiler, a CO alarm is mandatory.
When we service your furnace or boiler, we will check the ambient CO level in the home. We will also check the CO produced by the unit. We will make the necessary adjustments to the furnace or boiler. We also check for improper or failed venting. Venting can fail due to cracks, holes or blockages. Call us at (519)451-8910 to schedule your annual furnace or boiler maintenance.