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4 Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips During the Winter Months

You’ve probably heard of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning before, but you may not realize how at risk you could be for it in your own home.  When the temperatures start to drop outside, that risk factor increases even more.

Why is CO So Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas, which make it almost impossible to detect without the assistance of a carbon monoxide monitor.  Exposure to it can have serious adverse impacts on our health, including death.

Why Do I Need to Be Extra Careful in the Winter?

According to the CDC,“CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.”  Many of these things such as fireplaces and furnaces are much more likely to be used during the cold weather months.  Though it is important to be vigilant about CO safety all year round, during the wintertime we want to be extra cautious.

A cracked heat exchanger is the usual source of CO from a furnace.  In addition, as the Home Comfort Experts explain, winter is also a time when we tend to seal up leaky windows and door frames.  While this is a good practice for energy efficiency, the lack of fresh air in the home can also contribute to carbon monoxide exposure as the gasses are more likely to stick around.

Lastly, the chimney is an area of the home that needs to monitored very closely during the winter months.  When chimneys are clogged with debris, CO can build up.  Furthermore, many furnaces are vented through the chimney, but if this ventilation is done improperly that can also lead to problems.  High efficiency furnaces (98% AFUE and above) should not vent out the chimney.  Instead, they use much smaller exhaust pipes located along the side of the home.

Our Recommendations for CO Winter Safety

1. Schedule an Annual Furnace Inspection

We recommend having your furnace inspected at the beginning of heating season every year.  A thorough inspection will help prevent major problems such as cracked heat exchangers.

2. Don’t Forget to Have the Chimney Cleaned

Chimney inspections are recommended annually, and chimney cleaning is recommended on an as needed basis.  Many homeowners will choose to do both at the same time.

3. Hire Professionals for Furnace Installation

Installing a furnace is not something that should be done as a DIY project.  In order to make sure that the furnace is vented properly, hire a well known company with certified technicians.

4. Invest in Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are fairly inexpensive and easy to find at the local hardware store.  Or, your heating and cooling contractor may also sell them.  Most CO detectors simply plug into the wall, though you can find some such as the Google Nest Protect that are integrated with smart technology and apps.  Invest in multiple for around your house.

Are you looking to learn more about our residential heating services?  Contact us at FLAME Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical!

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