In addition to the perils of driving on icy roads and increased chance for influenza, the winter months are the most dangerous in terms of home carbon monoxide poisoning. Fumes from this odorless, colorless gas are present each time fuel is burned in gas ranges, fireplaces, and furnaces. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include dizziness, vomiting, nausea, chest pain, and disorientation. These symptoms are like the flu, which can delay a proper diagnosis. Here are the four most common ways unsafe levels of carbon monoxide enter your home.
Gas appliances require correct ventilation and it’s imperative to use your range hood when cooking. Sadly, only one in four people within the nation live in a state that requires kitchen exhaust. A gas oven should never be used as a method of heating a home. If you’re unsure of how to install a combustion appliance, it’s well worth hiring a professional to complete the task for you. Patches of soot around your stove are cause for concern, as are flames any color other than blue.
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Natural Gas Vents, Exhaust Stacks, and Fresh Air Intakes
In times of heavy snowfall, it’s possible for your home’s natural gas vents, exhaust stacks, and fresh air intakes to become blocked. This is particularly true if they’re only a few feet off the ground. Blocked vents can prevent carbon monoxide from being able to exit the home.
When using your fireplace, be sure to keep the flue open. This prevents smoke and carbon monoxide build-up within the home. It’s worth noting that using your fireplace oftentimes lowers the temperature in your home because opening the damper lets in as much cold air as an open window can. Have your chimney routinely inspected for loose connections, blockages, and deterioration. It can be a red flag if your chimney is showing rust streaks or the bricks at the top of the chimney become corroded and/or discolored.
A worn out or defective home heating system can raise the elevations of carbon monoxide in your home to an unsafe level. Ways this can happen is if the furnace combustion chamber is cracked, if the venting component was erroneously installed, or if the venting system becomes blocked.