The #1 cause of poisioning in the U.S. is Carbon Monoxide. However, less than 5% of all the CO poisonings are reported. Carbon monoxide, even in small quantities can cause serious health problems, particularly in children and the elderly. Millions of unsuspecting homeowners are exposed to low levels of CO and don't even know it. Unfortunately U.L. Listed CO alarms don't go off until your family has been exposed to 70ppm (parts per million) for over 3-1/2 hours! Most international limits for unsafe levels, including OSHA and the World Health Organization's guidelines are between at 15-35 ppm. Carbon monoxide can come from additional sources in your home besides your heating equipment, and they should be checked. These sources include your Water Heater, Gas Range, Gas Logs, Space Heater, and Boiler - even an attached garage.
How do homeowners not know you may be asking. Just a few weeks ago we ran into this very situation. We went out to our customer's home to perform a tune up. While inspecting the furnace, the technician found that a plate that sealed the blower compartment from the heat exchanger and exhaust was rusted to the point there were holes. He disabled the furnace from operating and spoke with the homeowner. The homeowner was in disbelief. He went on to explain that the entire family had woke up with headaches many times towards the end of last winter. The technician explained that the CO leaking into the house could have definitely caused the headaches. The homeowner couldn't believe the CO detector they had never alarmed. They went to the CO detector and the technician removed it from the wall and read the back of the detector. That detector does not alarm until there was 100 ppm in the air for 2+ hours. Needless to say we are replacing the furnace in their home.
In the process of that customer doing their due dilgence, they had another contractor come out to give them a price on replacement. That contractor (to our total and utter disbelief) told the homeowner that he had went back under the house and reconnected the furnace. They could now run the heat, but he did recommend maybe opening a window for 15-20 minutes every couple hours. The homeowners were very upset that the other contractor would put their children in harms way and ask him to leave. Our techincian had taken the time to truly educate the family on the risks and they had done some additional research as well. CO is deadly! It WILL make people sick! Why risk making your children, elderly, or yourself sick when there are other options?
Here are the symptoms and the rate of CO poisioning you should look for:
|35 ppm (0.0035%)||Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure|
|100 ppm (0.01%)||Slight headache in two to three hours|
|200 ppm (0.02%)||Slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment|
|400 ppm (0.04%)||Frontal headache within one to two hours|
|800 ppm (0.08%)||Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours|
|1,600 ppm (0.16%)||Headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours|
|3,200 ppm (0.32%)||Headache, dizziness and nausea in five to ten minutes. Death within 30 minutes.|
|6,400 ppm (0.64%)||Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Convulsions, respiratory arrest, and death in less than 20 minutes.|
|12,800 ppm (1.28%)||Unconsciousness after 2–3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.|
Here also is a CO Fact Sheet provided by the EPA.
Be sure to check or have your heating contractor check your CO Detector! First, run the test mode to make sure it is still functioning. Second, check the data on that particular CO Detector. Make sure it is a low level monitor. Third, most CO Detectors have a replacement date on them. Be sure yours is still within that date.
What do I do if my CO detector does alarm? Quickly open a window and get out of the house. If anyone is feeling sick call 911. If not, call the gas company to have them shut off the gas, and call your heating contractor. Do not re-enter your home until it is cleared by a professional.
Please, have your furnace checked regularly! Do your own research, educate yourself in the dangers, and be sure your heating contractor is familiar with new practices and understands the dangers of CO poisoning. Our technicians attended and been certified by National Comfort Institute on the proper installation, monitoring, and detection of combustion appliances.
Call us today to have your furnace checked!