Carbon Monoxide: Avoidance and Prevention
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colourless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, and propane in devices such as furnaces, water heaters, and stoves. These items are normally designed to vent the CO to the outside, but harmful interior levels of CO can result from incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems.
Homeowners can take action against potential carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:
- Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected yearly, preferably before the start of the cold-wather season when heaters and furances are first used.
- These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters, generators, and clothes dryers.
- All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.
- If repairs are necessary, be sure they are performed by a qualified technican.
- Always use the proper fuel specified for the device.
- Have flues and chimneys for fuel-burning fireplaces or wood stoves inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
- Never use gas stoves or ovens to heat the home, even temporarily.
- Do not start or idle a vehicle in a garage, even with the outer garage door open.
- For additional protection, purchase a CO detector (either battery operated or plug-in) and follow the manufactorer's instructions for proper location and installation.
- Learn what to do should the CO alarm activate: If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential souces of CO.
Information provided by David Wall - Pillar to Post Home Inspection Services, serving the Durham Region.