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Home Safety—Carbon Monoxide Detectors & Regular Maintenance

Your home is a sanctuary. It is where you and your family spend most of your life. Part of making your home a haven of comfort is ensuring
that it is also safe. When heating Portland homes or powering appliances with gas, wood, oil or coal, homeowners and their families benefit from the preventive services that licensed contractors provide during annual inspections. Along with maintaining appliances, it is also a good idea to regularly test carbon monoxide detectors and schedule annual inspections of a home’s furnace exhaust system.

Photo of family sitting on home couch.

Heating Portland Homes: Why Carbon Monoxide Matters

Burning fuel—such as gas, oil, coal or wood—produces carbon dioxide. This gas is responsible for over 20,000 emergency room visits each year. While utility companies give natural gas an unpleasant odor, carbon monoxide does not have a distinct odor, color, or taste. When individuals state that they smell carbon monoxide, they generally smell the byproduct of the burning fuel, like smoke or exhaust.

The following produce carbon monoxide:

  • Gas-powered vehicles and machinery
  • Fuel-burning appliances
  • Charcoal and gas grills
  • Gas stoves
  • Wood and gas fireplaces
  • Candles

Carbon monoxide exists in nature and bodies need a small percentage of the gas to function. When carbon monoxide enters the body through the skin and inhalation, it binds to hemoglobin in the blood. When this occurs in higher concentrations, red blood cells cannot carry oxygen throughout the body.

Most instances of carbon monoxide poisoning occur when an individual is exposed to the gas in an enclosed space that is not ventilated. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, drowsiness and vision problems. You might think that you suffered food poisoning or have the flu, but then find that you feel better when you are outside.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Move yourself and anyone else affected by the gas outside right away.
  • Call 9-1-1.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  1. Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, including near your bedroom. Even if you do not have gas appliances or a fireplace in your home, it is still a good idea to have at least one detector, particularly if you like to burn candles. Change the batteries in carbon monoxide detectors twice a year. Replace the detectors every five years.
  2. Hire a qualified licensed technician to inspect and maintain fuel-burning appliances every year. These appliances include those that run off gas, oil, wood or coal.
  3. Do not use outdoor grills, generators, portable flameless chemical heaters and other items meant for outdoor use inside your home.
  4. If the power goes out for a prolonged period and you do not have fireplace, stay at an emergency shelter, hotel, or friend’s home. Do not try to heat your home using candles or outdoor appliances. If the heating system breaks down and the electricity in your home remains unaffected, contact an HVAC contractor right away.
  5. Ensure that all gas appliances in your home vent outdoors.
  6. If the vent pipes from fuel-burning appliances crack or break, turn the appliance off and call a qualified technician right away. Do not patch the pipe with tape, gum or objects.
  7. Hire a professional to inspect and clean your chimneys every year.
  8. Do not leave your car running in the garage, even if the garage door is open.

At AAA Heating & Cooling, the safety and health of your family and home are our top priorities. We want your home to be a safe haven that feels comfortable throughout the year. If you have fuel-burning appliances, gain added peace of mind by pairing annual appliance inspections with our Indoor Air Monitoring services. Using state-of-the-art indoor air quality monitoring systems, our technicians obtain precise reports regarding harmful particulates found in your home so they can provide you with informed recommendations. If you have any concerns about your heating and cooling system, don’t hesitate to get in touch with AAA Heating & Cooling at any time of the day or night.

Photo by Shilad Sen via CC License