Silent Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Know the Signs and Symptoms
Did you know that carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths across the United States, even right here in New Albany? Home appliances, like furnaces and heating systems, can play a huge role in the build-up of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home if they’re not functioning properly.
At Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning, we’re here to keep you safe, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Stay in the know about potential carbon monoxide poisoning with our help.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, deemed as the “silent killer”, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. It is naturally produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, or other fuel. This is a byproduct of burning fuel to heat your home. Improperly ventilated appliances, particularly in a tightly sealed or enclosed space, may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels, which can quickly become a big problem.
High concentrations of carbon monoxide are often due to improper ventilation or leaking appliances, particularly in a tightly sealed or enclosed space. If your home’s heating system isn’t working properly, you could be putting yourself and family members at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Where does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of burning fuel to heat homes here in New Albany and around the country. It is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.
Our homes are designed to handle this gas and distribute it properly. However, improperly ventilated appliances and engines, particularly in a tightly sealed or enclosed spaces, may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate and become dangerous.
Household Sources of Carbon Monoxide: Anytime you burn fuel to create heat, you are also creating carbon monoxide. The most common heat sources that create carbon monoxide in the home include:
- Gas Furnaces
- Oil Furnaces
- Oil Boilers
- Wood Fireplaces
- Wood Pellet Stoves
When your heating source is running correctly, there is no safety risk of creating heat in your home. However, when the concentration of carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen that our bodies need to function, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. This occurs when there is a breakdown, leak, or malfunction of your heating unit. The most common heating system problems that lead to carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Cracks in the combustion chamber
- Creaks in the piping
- Incomplete combustion processes
These types of problems may occur in an older system that has worn down from wear and tear, or a system that has been improperly installed. For help with professional installation of a new home heating system, contact Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning today!
Symptoms, Signs, & Health Risks of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by inhaling combustion fumes. When there is too much carbon monoxide in the air you’re breathing, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This means that your oxygen your body needs is not properly reaching your tissues and organs.
This can lead to serious tissue damage and even death. Often times, this happens somewhat slowly. Even when the levels emitted are not high enough to be fatal, it can still produce serious illness.
Some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning to look for include:
- Dull headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Many times, a family member may go to sleep or assume they caught the flu when in reality, they are being subject to carbon monoxide poisoning and the symptoms are starting to persistently take a toll on their body. This can be particularly dangerous when people are sleeping or intoxicated. Sometimes, depending on the level of carbon monoxide present, people may experience irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there’s a problem.
If you or family members inside your home are experiencing symptoms of possible carbon monoxide poisoning, the first step is to get fresh air. Go outside, get away from the home, and head to the doctor’s office to be tested for carbon monoxide poisoning.
To confirm your diagnosis, the doctor may test a sample of your blood for carbon monoxide. Treatment generally includes breathing pure oxygen to displace the carbon monoxide in your blood, and sometimes hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recommended to speed up the treatment process.
Testing for Poisoning: Our Process
Once you believe your home and family are being threatened by potential carbon monoxide poisoning, there’s no time to waste. Even if you don’t think you’re at risk, regular maintenance checkups and preventative measures can be taken to keep you and your family safe.
During the winter months, homeowners are at a heightened risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. For this reason, a regular, annual heating inspection and maintenance checkup should be a priority in order to ensure proper working equipment and personal safety.
There are multiple ways to test your home for the presence of carbon monoxide, and for those in New Albany, IN, and the surrounding areas, Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help.
If you suspect your home is falling subject to increasing levels of carbon monoxide, start by giving us a call. Once we define the problem at hand, we’ll send a licensed, trained professional HVAC technician to your home to analyze your property, your home, and your HVAC equipment.
Once we’re on site, we’ll perform a combustion analysis to more clearly identify the source of the problem and test the efficiency of your appliances – from your heater, water pump, gas furnace, fireplace, and more. Our team uses electronic combustion instrumentation, making the detection of carbon monoxide much faster and much easier. Our equipment is designed to more accurately identify fluctuating CO levels that would be difficult or impossible to measure any other way.
Most commonly, carbon monoxide becomes present in a home due to an improperly tuned gas appliance, clogged flue in your fireplace, or a cracked or failed heat exchanger. If a problem as such arises, our team can also help with repairing, replacing, and properly maintaining your home’s heating equipment.
Preventing CO2 In Your Home
Carbon monoxide poisoning is completely preventable. By taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family you can stay warm and safe. Lucky for you, our team at Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help. We’ve outlined some tips to prevent carbon monoxide levels.
- Keep your fuel-burning appliances and engines properly vented. Most commonly, this would include grills, cooking ranges, and car engines. In regards to your home’s heating system, this will include things like:
- Space heaters
- Water heaters
- Portable generators
- Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home. Some smoke detectors will also act as carbon monoxide detectors with digital displays that tell you the highest readout of CO concentration in your home. It is important to keep these in working condition.
- Have your heating system and appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year. Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning offers annual maintenance services for homes in New Albany and surrounding areas, as well as 24-hour emergency service, if ever needed.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. This includes charcoal burners, portable gas camp stoves, generators, or using a gas range for heat.
- If you have a fireplace, keep it in good repair. Clean your fireplace, chimney, and flue every year. Keep vents and chimneys unblocked. Check that they aren’t covered by tarps or debris. Even a gas fireplace needs to be checked to ensure it’s in good working condition each year.
At Allegiance, we offer carbon monoxide detectors and can install these in your home to help monitor the levels of carbon monoxide over time. If you are interested in a detector, give us a call today to speak to a member of our team.
HVAC Safety Tips
If you recognize the signs, symptoms, odors, or a high carbon monoxide reading on a detector, take steps to protect your home and family. Being prepared is the first step in staying safe from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you detect dangerous levels of CO2 in your home, take these steps:
- Evacuate and get out of the home or building as soon as possible. Don’t take anything with you.
- Call the fire department. Having a professional on site will determine the best procedures moving forward in regards to the levels present in your home.
- Turn off the heating system and any appliances – the fire department will take care of this once they’re on site.
- Open all the windows and doors. Again, stay outside until you’re sure levels are safe, and let your local fire department handle this.
- Call in the HVAC experts for proper repair, maintenance, or replacement needs. Make sure you have a qualified technician to diagnose and fix the problem before returning to the site of an incident.
If carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred in your home, it’s critical to find and repair the source of the carbon monoxide before you stay there again.
Staying Safe: Working With Allegiance
Carbon monoxide poisoning has been called the silent and invisible killer. No matter where you live, it can be a serious threat to you and your loved ones. Everyone is susceptible, but children, pets, the elderly, and those who are physically ill may be more likely to be affected.
Work with a professional to ensure your home, family, and heating system equipment are safe. We also recommend putting a carbon monoxide detector outside each separate sleeping area in your home, as well as the kitchen, basement, and garage. Most carbon monoxide detectors last an average of five years. The product’s lifetime will vary depending on your make and model. Keep it clean and clear from dust and debris and test batteries on a regular basis to ensure your safety.
Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning offers 24-hour emergency service, even on weekends and holidays. Never hesitate to call us if you think you’re being exposed to potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
Contact us today for more information about the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning!
At Allegiance Heating and Air Conditioning we strive to provide the highest quality and reliable service for our residential and commercial customers. We want to deliver the best value to our customers and maintain long lasting relationships by always exceeding their expectations. Our pledge is to maintain the highest level of honesty and integrity with our customers, vendors and clients. Based in Greenville, IN, we’re proud to serve Floyds Knobs, New Albany, Clarksville, Jeffersonville, Sellersburg, Georgetown, and Corydon as well as Louisville, KY areas.