What Appliances Cause Carbon Monoxide?

Even though carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless, it is a long way off from being harmless. This toxic gas is undetectable if you don’t make use of a carbon monoxide detector. Every day, a lot of people come in contact with high levels of CO without even knowing it.

In this article, you will find out what factors or appliances in your house may be exposing you to carbon monoxide. You will also find out the best practices that will protect you from it.

 

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What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is produced by the unfinished combustion of fuels like coal, wood, natural and propane gas. This gas is very toxic to the human body when accumulated. As it makes its way through the bloodstream, it will stop your body from properly absorbing oxygen.

This could then lead to tissue damage and even death.

A high number of people visit the emergency room every year because of carbon monoxide poisoning. The key thing to do is to buy a highly rated carbon monoxide detector (like this one) to protect you and your family.

Even though nobody is immune to this toxic gas and its effects, some people (like children, old people and persons with respiratory or heart conditions) are more susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

As a result of the nature of CO poisoning’s symptoms, a lot of people mistake them for symptoms of the flu. However, the symptoms of CO poisoning will abate when you leave the area where the carbon monoxide is present.

The following are some of the very common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Tiredness for people who are normally healthy.
  • People with heart conditions will suffer from chest pains.
  • Impaired vision.
  • Confusion and dizziness.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • If the concentration is higher, the carbon monoxide poisoning can make the person pass out.

 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms that have been listed or you have a suspicion that there is a carbon monoxide leak at your house, leave the home immediately to get fresh air, then call for professional help. This will likely determine if you need further medical attention.

 

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You also need to call your gas company or the local fire department to find the source of the leak and fix it.

It is important to note that it is possible that a person can breathe high levels of carbon monoxide without even showing symptoms. Breathing in small amounts of carbon monoxide over an extended period of time can lead to long term health problems like neurological impairments and motor and sensory disorders.

 

Where can carbon monoxide show up in the home?

CO is produced by burning fuels, meaning homes with fuel-based appliances are more prone to carbon monoxide leaks. Potential sources of carbon monoxide are:

 

  1. Grills

Don’t use a grill in enclosed spaces like a garage. The carbon monoxide produced from the burning of fuel can accumulate and lead to toxic concentrations.

 

  1. Furnaces, water heaters, space heaters and dryers

Most of the appliances listed above rely on the use of fuel to function in some homes. Without adequate ventilation, maintenance and inspection, these appliances might emit carbon monoxide into the home. Just like most air pollution concerns, CO poisoning usually happens during the winter period.

 

  1. Fireplaces

During winter, some people might decide to make use of the fireplace as a different source of heat. However, the problem is that smoke from the burning wood might accumulate in the house which will then increase the carbon monoxide concentration in the air. Ensure that you open the flue whenever you decide to use a fireplace.

 

  1. Stoves and kitchen ranges

Kitchen ranges and gas stoves could be sources of carbon monoxide in the home – especially if they’re used without adequate ventilation. To ensure that something like this doesn’t happen, keep the kitchen range and stove clean as well as in proper working condition.

 

  1. Portable generators

Gas-powered generators can be quite dangerous due to the fact that they emit high levels of CO when being used. To be on the safe side, always use the generator outside and at least 25 feet from any doors or windows that are open.

 

  1. Cars and other vehicles

A lot of vehicles need fuel combustion to function. Some people also prefer to put on their cars in the garage for some minutes especially during the winter season. Unfortunately, this action can lead to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide accumulating in your garage. This might even spread to include some other parts of your home.

Even if you have a detached garage, ensure that the garage door is open when you run your vehicle. Also, you should check your exhaust system at least once every year for potential leaks that might cause a buildup of carbon monoxide in the car.

 

  1. Tobacco smoke

This can be a source of CO for smokers and people that they have contact with. When a person smokes a cigarette, they directly inhale some of the CO that is produced from the combustion that happens when the tobacco is burned.

Also, smoking may increase the ambient levels of CO – particularly in enclosed rooms. This will undoubtedly increase the carbon monoxide exposure for persons who aren’t even smoking.

 

Other ways carbon monoxide can show up in an apartment?

Even though potential causes of CO in an apartment might be similar to the causes found in a home, there are actually some major differences that you need to be aware of.

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To put things in context, you might not need to worry about exhaust from a vehicle accumulating in your apartment, however, you need to consider the decisions of the other inhabitants in your building.

You have to be wary of the potential sources of CO already listed, but you also have to consider:

  1. Other tenants

The other residents situated in your building may use open fuels, particularly during the winter period when temperatures have dropped. Also, any excess CO levels in their abode might just find its way into your apartment via the vents.

 

  1. Ventilation

Improving the ventilation of an apartment can sometimes be tricky especially if you share walls with some other units. With fewer doors and windows, your options for improving the air flow in your apartment might be limited. Ensure that you pay attention to your apartment’s ventilation system whenever you’re cooking or engaging in any activity that may produce carbon monoxide.

 

  1. Gas-powered appliances

This might include furnaces, stoves and kitchen ranges. We’ve already talked about this, but due to the fact that apartments are generally smaller, you need to take extra care to ensure that the area is well-ventilated.

 

  1. Lanterns and space heaters

These appliances are powered by fuel which means they should not be used in enclosed spaces. Space heaters and lanterns are able to release increased levels of carbon monoxide that could quickly accumulate in enclosed spaces.

 

How to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation

It’s important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning. However, the most effect way of avoiding it in the first place is knowing how to prevent it. In a lot of CO poisoning cases, the issue would’ve been easily prevented by taking a few steps.

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It might be tempting to try to ignore the need to install Carbon Monoxide detectors or setting up maintenance for your appliances, but all these will keep you and your family safe.

The following are some of the steps you should take to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation in your home:

 

  1. Know your home

You have to know what appliances in your home pose the greatest risk of emitting carbon monoxide. Do you use a gas stove? Does your furnace run on natural gas? These are some of the questions you have to ask yourself.

Walk around the home and if you have to, you can write down the appliances that are in this category. Some houses will have a handful, while some may have just one.

It has to be said, though, that in these current times, it is very unlikely that you wouldn’t have a minimum of one appliance in the home that emits carbon monoxide. Ensure that you take your time to investigate.

 

  1. Install carbon monoxide detectors

Setting up a battery-powered CO detector might just be the most effective way of protecting you and your family from health problems. These detective are similar to smoke detectors as they’ve been designed to determine the level of carbon monoxide in your home. You also need to install CO detectors in major areas of the house (like the bedrooms, living room and kitchen).

While it is ideal to install multiple CO detectors in your home, it isn’t pocket-friendly. So, if your budget is short, ensure that you install one close to the bedrooms. This will ensure that inhabitants of the home will hear when the alarm rings.

 

  1. Check the carbon monoxide detectors regularly

When you’ve installed the CO detectors, it is important that they are maintained. This is because they won’t be able to protect your home and its inhabitants if they are not working.

One way to ensure this is to replace the batteries in the detectors at least twice a year. With this regular reminder, there will be no need to rely on a to-do-list to remember when the battery needs to be changed.

CO detectors are very durable, but they admittedly can’t last forever. Make plans to replace the whole unit after five years to ensure that your family is always protected.

 

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  1. Regularly service fuel-based appliances

Heating systems, water heaters, gas fireplaces, gas cooking ranges and all other fuel-based appliances should be serviced at least once each year to prevent malfunctions that might lead to a CO leak. It might be tempting for you to ignore preventative maintenance, but ignoring these appliances can lead to problems in your home.

 

  1. Proper ventilation

Ensure that your appliances are adequately ventilated. Call a professional to install the appliances and if you’ve already done that, call them to inspect the appliances and deal with any problems that may lead to CO leaks.

 

  1. Regular chimney inspections

If you own a working chimney, then you should call a professional to check your chimney and clean it once every year. This will prevent an accumulation of dirt and debris in the chimney which can trap carbon monoxide in the house.

 

  1. Practice safe usage of generators

A lot of people rely on generators as backup power. If you plan on using a generator inside, place it 20 feet away from any vents, doors or windows. Also, ensure that you have a working CO detector that will alert inhabitants of increased CO levels in the home.

 

  1. Don’t cut any corners

In case you discover a cracked or broken pipe, don’t patch it with gum or tape. Doing this can lead to a hole that will cause buildup of CO in the home. Call a professional if you don’t know the right way or method to repair the pipes.

 

  1. Don’t grill indoors

Even though grilling is fun, you shouldn’t try it inside the house. Propane, charcoal and other gases are used to power grills. These machines will produce CO and if they are used indoors, it can build up to reach unsafe levels.

 

  1. Don’t put on a car or fuel powered lawn equipment in an enclosed garage

This, perhaps, is one of the most common examples of carbon monoxide causes. A car shouldn’t be turned on whenever the garage door is shut. This will be dangerous for anyone in the car. In the event that the garage and the house are attached, carbon monoxide can also enter the house.

While lawn equipment like a power washer or mover is not as powerful or as big as a car, it will still be able to produce significant levels of CO that can rapidly build up if the door to the garage is locked. Ensure that this door is opened when the machine is turned on. If it’s possible, you can bring the machine outside before starting it.