A client recently asked me why I recommended that they install carbon monoxide detectors in their home if all of their appliances and heat sources were electric. This of course was a legitimate question.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, invisible gas that is produced when carbon based or fossil fuels such as natural gas, liquid propane and wood are burned. It can be harmful or even fatal to people and animals. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary and many people report cold or flu like symptoms. Drowsiness, headaches and nausea are common. More than 200 people die in their homes each year from non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands are hospitalized. Most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occur in the months of December and January.
Likely sources of carbon monoxide are cracked heat exchangers on furnaces or improperly vented furnaces, gas stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers and poorly or improperly drafting fireplaces. Running a car or gas powered generator in the garage or near open windows can also allow carbon monoxide to enter the house.
It is recommended that each home be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home. Additionally the detector should be placed within hearing range of any sleeping area. If your home has a gas or solid fuel burning fireplace it is recommended that a detector be installed in this room too. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for placement and maintenance of your carbon monoxide detector. Keep in mind that carbon monoxide detectors are not a substitute for properly maintained appliances. It is recommended that all heating sources and fireplaces be inspected and serviced annually by a trained professional.