The holiday season is here, and families all across the country are having parties, hosting and cooking festive dinners. Along with stocking groceries, cleaning the house and buying gifts, many families forget one important thing to do this time of year: Check to make sure their home is protected against carbon monoxide.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is produced by stoves, fireplaces, gas ranges, ovens, furnaces and even automobiles, lawn mowers and other gas-powered engines. This colorless, odorless, tasteless gas is commonly known as “the silent killer” because it’s essentially undetectable — unless a working carbon monoxide detector is placed in the home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal to anyone — infants, children, adults and pets — with symptoms ranging from dizziness and upset stomach to chest pain and headache.
According to the National Center for Environmental Health, approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room annually due to carbon monoxide poisoning, with about 430 of those people losing their lives to it. With December upon us, many homeowners are turning on their furnaces to stay warm, and if their equipment is incorrectly installed or overdue for a checkup, it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
BW/Cook Service Experts, America’s trusted heating, cooling, and plumbing professionals who know how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning all year round, encourages families to stay safe this holiday season by following these five tips.
1. Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home
If your home has at least one fuel-burning furnace, connected garage or fireplace, the best preventative measure is to install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your residence — including the basement and garage and inside or outside of each bedroom. If you currently have carbon monoxide detectors, check to ensure your batteries are working properly once a month.
It’s advised that homeowners replace their carbon monoxide detectors every five years to ensure they’re using the most up-to-date equipment. When shopping for a new alarm, consider upgrading to a smart carbon monoxide detector, which is easy to use, can last an additional five years compared to typical detectors, and can often be synced with your smartphone, Wi-Fi and other smart home devices.
2. Schedule fireplace inspections to ensure proper ventilation and installation
Gas and wood-burning fireplaces provide warmth and create the perfect cozy environment in your home. However, when they’re not maintained or improperly ventilated, they can produce carbon monoxide in the home, due to incomplete combustion or other factors. Schedule an appointment to have your fireplace inspected annually, including a chimney inspection.
3. Warm up your car outside of your garage
When warming up your car, it’s tempting to do so in the warmer confines of your garage with the door open, but car fumes inside a restricted space can easily lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. And with a connected garage, carbon monoxide and other noxious gases can enter the home. To keep you and your family safe, be sure to always warm up your car outside of the garage with the garage door closed. Follow this tip for all gas-powered equipment such as your lawn mower, gas generator, snow blower or even a snowmobile.
4. Never use your oven or stove to heat your home temporarily
When used properly for cooking, we all know that the oven and stove are perfectly safe appliances. However, if a home’s furnace stops working in the middle of winter, it’s never safe to provide warmth indoors with an oven or stove until the furnace is fixed. Misuse of these appliances can cause the unventilated toxic gas to linger in the home, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and death. Instead, use a space heater while following the manufacturer’s safety precautions or a properly ventilated and maintained fireplace until the furnace is fixed.
5. Schedule a home inspection or HVAC tune-up
Cracks and leaks around the furnace’s heat exchanger could compromise the safety of you and your family. If your home is due for a seasonal checkup, bring in a specialist to inspect your HVAC system. Your home’s ductwork may need to be replaced if:
- Your ducts are more than 15 years old.
- Your home is extremely dusty, or allergies are more severe at home.
- You can’t manage the temperature in specific rooms.
- You can see ducts that are crushed.
- You smell a strong musty scent when your HVAC system is on.
In addition to avoiding a broken furnace during cold or freezing temperatures, you’re also ensuring your and your family’s safety against carbon monoxide poisoning.
When HVAC pros likeBW/Cook Service Experts provide an early inspection, you’re guaranteed a safer furnace and home this winter. Not only that — you’ll also breathe in far cleaner air thanks to your HVAC unit working properly.
Ready to schedule a tune-up to give you peace of mind this fall and winter? BW/Cook Service Experts are here to help. Schedule an appointment online or give us a call to take advantage of C to take advantage of promotions so you can save even more.