Carbon monoxide (CO) can build up in your home's air any time of the year, but it tends to be the biggest issue during the heating season. That's because we use our fuel-burning appliances the most when it's cold outside, and issues with those appliances can allow CO to build up in our tightly-sealed homes. Today we're going to talk about some of the most common ways that carbon monoxide can build up in your home's air and what you can do to avoid the dangerous gas!
How does carbon monoxide build up in the house?
Some of the most common causes of carbon monoxide buildup in your home's air include:
- Malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances. When fuel is burned, it emits carbon monoxide as a byproduct. If a fuel-burning appliance is working properly, the gas will be contained and vented safely out of your home. If there is a problem with a fuel burning appliance, such as a cracked heat exchanger in a furnace, carbon monoxide can be released into your home's air. The appliances you should look out for the most include gas furnaces, water heaters, ovens and fireplaces.
- Blocked, clogged or leaking flues. As mentioned above, carbon monoxide is supposed to be safely vented out of your home. This is typically done through a flue pipe, which is connected to a fuel-burning appliance and leads outside. If a flue is blocked, clogged or leaking, carbon monoxide can build up in your home's air instead of being vented outside.
- Idle cars in your garage. If your home has any air leaks near your garage, carbon monoxide from a car that's left running can get into your air and circulate throughout your home.
What can you do to keep your house safe from carbon monoxide buildup?
Although carbon monoxide buildup can seriously endanger the health of you and your family, preventing it from happening is simple if you take the right preventative steps. These include:
- Scheduling a furnace tune-up every year. During a tune-up from Jerry Kelly, we'll inspect your furnace for signs of any issues that can cause carbon monoxide leaks and perform maintenance tasks that will prevent those issues from occurring in the first place.
- Having your other fuel-burning appliances inspected. In addition to your furnace, you should also consider having your other fuel-burning appliances inspected by a qualified professional. This is especially true for your water heater, which should be tuned-up by a reputable plumber.
- Never using an oven or stove to heat your home. Even if your furnace is out, you should never use your oven or stove to heat your home. When left open, the flames from those appliances will emit CO directly into your home's air.
- Never leaving a car on in your garage. You should turn your car off immediately when you pull in to your garage so that CO does not leak into your home. If you need to warm up your car before using it, pull it out onto your driveway first.
- Properly installing and maintaining carbon monoxide monitors. Make sure that you have carbon monoxide monitors installed in all of the right places in your home. In addition, install a fresh set of batteries in all of your monitors before the heating season kicks into full gear. For the best protection, consider installing low-level carbon monoxide monitors, which will warn you when low levels of CO are slowly building up in your home's air (as opposed to conventional monitors, which will only alert you when CO levels are already dangerously high).
If you have any questions about carbon monoxide in the home, or if you'd like a heating system serviced or installed, contact Jerry Kelly, your St. Louis furnace repair and installation contractor. We provide service to the St. Louis area, including towns like Ladue, Lake St. Louis and Manchester, MO.
photo credit: limbo_ via photopin cc