When choosing a heating and air conditioning company for your home, you are in effect trusting them with the lives of you and your family. A poor functioning or improperly installed furnace can be highly dangerous, and deceptively so. The main culprit: Carbon Monoxide. We at Sensible Heating & Cooling take this part of our job with the utmost of seriousness because safety is the foundation of having a comfortable home

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO), a simple compound of one part Carbon triple-bonded to one part Oxygen, results from a partial oxidation of matter that contains carbon. It is a gas lighter than air, and is odorless and colorless, making it all the more difficult to detect. In instances where there is not enough oxygen present in the air, including when a stove or furnace is burning any organic fuel indoors, Carbon Monoxide will start to form instead of Carbon Dioxide.

An environment becomes toxic to humans and animals at the point of 35 parts per million, so without sufficient ventilation it does not take long for it to build up to dangerous levels in closets and homes. In the human body, Carbon monoxide will latch on to the hemoglobin in blood, taking up much of the space of the oxygen that is being delivered to body tissue and rendering your blood an ineffective oxygen delivery system. It is by far the most common poisoning gas in the U.S., earning it the nickname “the silent killer.”

What you need to know…

Early symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are flu like. Headache, dizziness, nausea, a feeling of weakness and disorientation, or vomiting can start to kick in. Getting outside to fresh air as soon as possible will remedy this. The problem is that when people are sleeping, intoxicated, or in the case of children or the elderly who might need assistance getting outdoors, the poisoning may become too great before safe levels of oxygen can be restored. Other issues of chronic illness can arise if the levels in a person’s home are toxic, but not too a fatal extent, and the problem goes undiagnosed for a period of time.

What you can do…

Finally, the good news. Humans aren’t totally powerless to detect this silent killer. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is largely preventable with some attention to the matter. As far as your home furnace, water heater, and other gas-burning appliances go, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website recommends that a qualified technician inspect and service these items yearly for good health. Backup battery powered CO detectors, especially in sleeping areas, are vital as well. These detectors sound much like a smoke alarm if CO levels reach the point of toxicity in the room it’s placed in.

If you have any concerns about the health of your furnace or water heater, please treat the situation with seriousness. Call local emergency numbers for any immediate needs, and don’t hesitate to contact us at 720-876-7166 or dan@sensibleheat.net for equipment inspections or to schedule your regular maintenance appointments. Also, please check out the CDC’s list for other recommendations on CO poisoning prevention.