Carbon Monoxide: What Homeowners Need to Know About the Silent Killer

Almost everyone knows that carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that, if it goes undetected, can cause great harm to anyone who breathes it in. Although this is common knowledge, how much do you really know about CO? We’ll tell you where it comes from, how to spot signs of CO poisoning, and how to prevent it by keeping up with your HVAC maintenance.

Sources of CO Leaks

Systems that are powered by gas or oil are at risk for carbon monoxide leaks. Since air conditioners do not burn fuel, they cannot cause carbon monoxide leaks. Your heating system, water heater, stove or other gas/oil powered items are going to be the source of any CO leaks. One common cause of carbon monoxide leaks is a failed or leaking heat exchanger. Clogged vents are another common cause of CO leaks.

CO Poisoning Symptoms Include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain

CO Detectors and HVAC Maintenance

Carbon monoxide alarms are available for the home. Many smoke detectors are also equipped with a CO alarm, but if yours is not, you will need to install a separate one. While having CO alarms is great, these systems often have a hard time detecting slow, gradual leaks. They will alert you when CO buildup has reached dangerous levels, but by this time you and your loved ones may have already begun to be poisoned by carbon monoxide. It is for this reason that homeowners need to keep up with regular, professional HVAC inspections and maintenance.

As we stated earlier, CO leaks can often occur from failures of the heat exchanger or ventilation system. Without regular HVAC maintenance and inspections, you may never know about problems with your heat exchanger, since your furnace will continue to work even if it fails. Some people might be tempted to patch leaking vent pipes themselves, using whatever materials are available. This is a huge mistake since incorrect patching can actually cause CO to build up in the home. The best, safest course of action is to have a Middle Tennessee HVAC professional like Hatton’s HVAC Solutions inspect your system on a regular basis for any potential dangers.

Reach out to us to schedule your spring tune-up and inspection! Our services can help homeowners fight the danger of CO, the silent killer.