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Carbon Monoxide Facts in Owensboro, KY

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless and odorless and therefore difficult to detect. It is produced by incomplete combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with gas, oil kerosene or wood may produce CO. If such appliances are not installed, maintained, and used properly, CO may accumulate to dangerous levels.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning, and why are these symptoms particularly dangerous?
Breathing CO causes symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and weakness in healthy people. CO also causes sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death. This is particularly dangerous because CO effects often are not recognized. CO is odorless and some of the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu and other common illnesses.

CO Sign - HVAC Company

Are some people more affected by exposure to CO than others?
Yes, CO exposure especially affects unborn babies, infants, and people with anemia or a history of heart disease. Breathing low levels of the chemical can cause fatigue and increased chest pain in people with chronic heart disease.

How many people are poisoned from CO each year?
Nearly 5,000 people in the United States are treated in hospital emergency rooms for CO poisoning. This number is believed to be underestimated because many people with CO symptoms mistake the symptoms for the flu and are misdiagnosed and never get treated.

How can production of dangerous levels of CO in my home be prevented?
Proper maintenance and installation of your appliances should be your number one priority. Proper maintenance begins with having a qualified heating service technician check your home's heating system annually. The technician should look at the electrical and mechanical components of your appliances, including all safety devices. In addition the technician should check flues for blockages, corrosion, and loose connections.

Proper installation is critical to the safe operation of combustion appliances such as furnaces. All new appliances have installation instructions that should be followed exactly. National and local building codes should be followed as well. Vented appliances should be vented properly, according to manufacturer's instructions. Adequate combustion air should be provided to assure complete combustion. All combustion appliances should be installed by a professional.

Are there visible or tale-tell signs that might indicate a CO problem?
Yes, there are. These include:

 Loose or improper connections on vents and chimneys.

 Visible rust or stains on vents and chimneys.

 An appliance that makes unusual sounds like a whooshing sound or emits an unusual smell.

 A high concentration of CO in your home can be one of the causes of your windows sweating inside. There are others factors, such as high humidity, that can also cause your windows to sweat.

 An abnormally high amount of headaches or burning or itchy eyes noticed by your family.

 An appliance that keeps shutting off. For example, many new appliances have safety components attached that prevent operation if an unsafe condition exists. If an appliance stops operating, it may be because a safety device is preventing a dangerous condition. Therefore, don't try to operate an appliance that keeps shutting off. Call a professional service person instead.

 Bird noises in your flue venting or chimney could indicate a bird nest has been built, plugging the venting system.

Are there other ways to prevent CO poisoning?
Yes, there are. These include:

 Never use a range or oven to heat the living areas of your home—not even in an emergency. Plug-in electric heaters are inexpensive and readily available to use as an alternative heat source in an emergency.

 Never use a charcoal grill or hibachi inside the home.

 Never keep a car running in an attached garage.

 Never run an emergency gas generator in the house or garage.

Can CO be detected?
Yes, CO can be detected with CO detectors that meet the requirements of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2034. Detectors that meet the UL standard measure high CO concentrations over short periods of time and low CO concentrations over long periods of time. The effects of CO can be cumulative over time. Detectors sound an alarm before the level of CO in a person's blood would become crippling. Detectors that meet the UL 2034 standard currently cost from $50 to $100.

Are there other CO detectors that are less expensive?
There are inexpensive cardboard or plastic detectors that change color and do not sound an alarm and have a limited useful life. They require the occupant to look at the device to determine if CO is present. CO concentrations can build up rapidly while occupants are asleep, and these devices would not sound an alarm to wake them. For these reasons, we do not recommend these types of inexpensive detectors.

If I have a good quality CO detector, do I still need an annual furnace check?
Yes, by having your furnace inspected by a professional annually, the service technician can find any potential problems in advance before you and your family experience any CO exposure from that appliance. It could be as simple as a small crack starting to develop in your combustion chamber or heat exchanger. Our service technicians have the most accurate CO testing devices available today. The peace of mind alone is worth the cost of having a professional service your furnace.

We were vety satisfied with 4 Seasons and there installers. "Good company". Thank you.
Gerald Stokes, Utica
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