Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: A Legitimate Risk During Wintertime Heating

By February 15, 2015 Blogs No Comments

Home heating systems are very safe.  However, if the fuel you use is gas or oil you should be aware of the possibility of carbon monoxide leaks. Odorless, colorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is a silent and deadly threat that’s responsible for over 170 fatalities throughout the U.S., according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

carbon monoxide detector 2How Carbon Monoxide Affects the Human Body

Although the human body needs oxygen to survive, the hemoglobin protein in the bloodstream has an affinity for carbon monoxide. Given the chance, it’ll take up carbon monoxide faster than it will take up oxygen. This can have devastating and quite lethal effects.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are subtle and often mistaken for other, more minor conditions. Chronic fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness are common symptoms. Continued exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures and even death.

How Your Furnace Creates That Risk

As gas- and oil-fired furnaces burn fuel, the combustion process creates a host of toxic by-products, including carbon monoxide. These by-products are normally carried away from living spaces through chimneys and exhaust flues, but the following scenarios can stop that from happening:

  • The chimney has accumulated excess amounts of soot, which can cause blockages and chimney fires.
  • The chimney is the wrong size for the furnace.
  • The flue and/or other connecting pipes have rusted or corroded, allowing gases to leak through.
  • The flue is blocked from the outside, usually due to debris or animals seeking warmth.

Reducing Your Risk

A well-maintained furnace is the key to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. Your HVAC technician should be on hand every spring and fall to perform preventive maintenance on your furnace, including inspection of the chimney and flue. Installing a carbon monoxide detector also drastically reduces your risk of falling prey to the silent killer.

If you’re looking to lower your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your Houston home, the pros at ACS Absolute Comfort can help. Contact us for your heating system maintenance or other home comfort needs. 

Image via Shutterstock.com

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