How to Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

Known as the ‘silent killer’, Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is produced by malfunctioning fuel-burning equipment or household appliances. This odorless and invisible gas can cause lasting health effect or even result in death. While carbon monoxide is a serious concern for homeowners, the best way to prevent rising CO levels is by keeping a well maintained furnace and staying aware of warning signs.

What is Carbon Monoxide and What Causes It?

Carbon monoxide is the natural product of incomplete combustion. Many heating systems, such as gas furnaces, produce CO, which is carried out through your home’s ventilation. Furnaces that are clean and efficient produce low amounts of CO, while dirty, cracked, or damaged systems produce greater amounts that could lead to health concerns. When carbon monoxide builds up in the air and is inhaled, the body replaces the oxygen in the red blood cells with CO, leading to tissue damage or in some cases, death. Many people describe the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as feeling ‘flue-like’, experiencing confusion, headache, stomach ache, vomiting, chest pain, and dizziness.

Monitoring CO Levels Inside Your Home

Start by purchasing a carbon monoxide detector from your local home improvement store. There are many CO detectors to choose from ranging from basic models to digitally controlled products.

Next find the right spot to install the CO detector. Carbon monoxide is lighter than air so it will rise to the ceiling. Install the detector as close to the ceiling as possible. If there are multiple floors to your home, it’s a good idea to add a detector to each level. Avoid placing CO detectors near kitchens, fireplaces, or garages because these rooms often experience short-term spikes that are not harmful, but will set off the alarm.

Again, the best way to prevent unhealthy carbon monoxide levels is by keeping your furnace clean and efficient. Furnace maintenance plans are the easiest way to keep CO levels low and your home safe.

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