Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that seeps into your home. Consistent exposure leads to illness and can be fatal. Sources of carbon monoxide include:
- Water heaters
- Room heaters
Home appliances that use fossil fuels such as kerosene or natural gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Furnaces, floor heaters, and fireplaces are common hotspots for carbon monoxide because they emit heat. Improper ventilation traps the gas inside your home, where it can escape into your attic, basement, and crawl space. Air conditioners that are poorly installed or have a dirty air filter trap and circulate carbon monoxide throughout your home.
Why Should You Be Concerned About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide gas is invisible and difficult to detect. You can inhale it without notice or warning. When you breathe in carbon monoxide, your oxygen goes down. The gas affects your red blood cells and deprives your body of the oxygen you need to keep going.
If you have flu-like symptoms without a fever, the problem may lie in your carbon monoxide levels. Other symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or shortness of breath are red flags of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have these symptoms, get medical help immediately.
Can Air Conditioners Produce Carbon Monoxide?
The short answer is no. Unlike furnaces, air conditioners don’t need gas, nor do they produce heat. Therefore, they’re not carbon monoxide sources.
However, there are ways that your AC unit can contribute to carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Although they can’t create it, an air conditioner can disburse the deadly gas throughout your home if it is already present. So, how would carbon monoxide gas be present in the home?
Vents, chimneys, and heat exchangers could have carbon monoxide gas trapped inside them from when they were last used. Below is a list of dos and don’ts for preventing this problem in your home.
Check Your Vents and Have Them Serviced as Needed
Good vents that are clean and free of debris will redirect carbon monoxide out of your home. Vents that are blocked or dirty trap the deadly gas, allowing it to remain inside your home. The gas is circulated through your air conditioner and distributed in every room.
Your vents can also be an excellent nesting area for insects, birds, and other small animals. They can get trapped inside and block the gas from leaving your home. A good pest control company can help you get rid of these unwanted guests. Routine inspections and maintenance can catch these issues early and eliminate them.
Get a Routine Chimney Cleaning
A dirty chimney is fatal for two reasons. One is that it is a fire hazard. Old soot and debris from birds’ nests, tree leaves, or branches get trapped inside the flue. Further, dirt and debris from recent construction can also get trapped and block the gas from escaping.
A routine chimney cleaning can prevent the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s recommended that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional at least twice per year. This should be done in the spring and fall.
Have Your Heat Exchangers Inspected
Gas or oil furnaces rely on heat exchangers to warm up your home. These exchangers purge deadly toxins like carbon monoxide. Their function is to redirect the gas away from heating ducts and out of your home.
Heat exchangers that are warped or cracked may not be able to remove trapped carbon monoxide from your home. A professional can inspect your heat exchangers and replace them if needed.
Make Sure Your Appliances Are in Working Order
Any appliances that use vents should be checked to see if they are in good, working order. Make sure that dryers and heaters are connected to clean vents that don’t have debris preventing proper airflow. As for your dryer, always clean the lint tray. It’s strongly advised that you clean it out between loads to help prevent dryer fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Use Generators With Caution
Generators are great for emergencies. You can use them as a backup when your electricity goes out. However, when using a generator make sure to use caution. Never bring your generator indoors for any reason. Always keep it outdoors and keep it at least 20 feet away from windows and doors. Failure to do so increases your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Invest in a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Your best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to invest in a carbon monoxide detector. You can have them installed in selected locations throughout your home. To place them correctly, consider the areas where the most gas is produced. These include your kitchen, basement, and laundry room. Other good spots to place a carbon monoxide monitor are near your boiler and furnace.
State laws differ on how carbon monoxide detectors are used. Your state may have mandates that require you to place one in the hallway near the bedrooms. Beware of fire sources and have each detector placed at a minimum distance of 20 feet away. Even your garage is an ideal spot, as vehicles are another source of carbon monoxide emissions.
Have the Air Conditioner Serviced and Its Filter Changed
Any air filter that’s dirty or clogged is a breeding ground for carbon monoxide poisoning. Dirt traps the deadly gas and circulates it indoors through the air conditioner. Getting your air filters checked is vital to your health and safety. You should also have your AC unit serviced to make sure it’s clean and working properly.
Check Your Vent Pipes
Vent pipes are the gateway to clean air that’s free of dust and toxins. They redirect carbon monoxide out of your home, so you don’t inhale it. But each pipe must be professionally installed for this to happen. Carbon monoxide can easily evade a vent pipe that’s bent or damaged in some way. Pipes that are downward will reroute carbon monoxide inwards. Have them inspected by a professional and reinstalled as needed.
Get Regular Furnace and AC Inspections
Regular AC and furnace inspections are best for safety. During the process, your HVAC technician will perform a safety check. They will check your heat exchangers for cracks and inspect the flue. They’ll check your AC filters and change them if needed. Inspections are best when done seasonally.
Call Precision Heating & Air
Precision Heating & Air is a locally, family-owned business that has been providing exceptional service to our customers in the metro Atlanta area for three decades. Our skilled professionals work hard to ensure you receive quality, timely service. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, we can help. We’ll assess the problem and discuss recommendations with you. We offer duct cleaning, ventilation, and air filtration services for your needs. We have a wide selection of air purifiers built to keep your indoor air safe and free from toxins. Contact Precision Heating & Air today to learn more about our services.