Could Your Home Harbor Carbon Monoxide?

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Heating, Home Safety

Carbon Monoxide PoisoningIt happens all over the country, in rain or shine, winter or summer. Carbon monoxide finds its way into a home, often with tragic consequences. There's a reason we built carbon monoxide checks into our twice-yearly tuneup visits for our Gold Star members — we believe in putting the safety and best interests of our customers first, and this service lets us and our customers rest a little more easily at night. How can you prevent a possible carbon monoxide issue in your home? We have a few pieces of important advice.

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

They look nearly identical to smoke detectors, and if you're living in new construction, you may already have had one or two installed at that time. Usually located close to places where carbon monoxide tends to find its way into your home — near a furance or garage, for example — they will sound off an alarm similar to the sound of a smoke detector if higher-than-normal carbon monoxide levels are detected. It's essential that you maintain a working carbon monoxide detector, especially in winter months. If your furnace is going or you're prone to 'warming up' the car before you leave for work when the temperatures are low, you are at serious risk without a working detector. They can be purchased at any local home-improvement store.

Speaking of 'Warming Your Car Up'... Don't

This is a hard piece of advice to follow, even for us. When it's truly bitterly cold outside, the idea of stepping into a chilly vehicle and driving to work while your fingers feel like they're frozen to the steering wheel is not an appealing notion. Carbon monoxide can rise to deadly levels within a home in minutes, and a running car in a closed garage is a huge risk. Even opening your garage door may not be enough to keep levels from causing injury. We can't suggest any way that is 100% safe, but backing your car totally out of the garage and letting it warm up in the open air carries the least risk.

Get Your Gas Furnace Checked Out Regularly

This advice is most essential for older construction or historic homes, which often are heated by older furnaces that don't work with the same efficiency as more modern heating. Any gas furnace can get a cracked heat exchanger and leak carbon monoxide, however, no matter how new. It's imperative to schedule a regular checkup prior to turning your furnace on for the first time after the end of summer. A service professional can take a quick look, check for carbon monoxide levels in your home, and let you know that your furnace is up to par — or warn you that it needs repair.

Watch Out For Early Symptoms

If you're aware of the earlier symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, you may be able to catch it before your family is sickened. Early carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Fatigue and combined muscle aches (we call this "a flu-like feeling")

More severe symptoms are:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Dizziness or sudden inability to maintain balance
  • Confusion
  • Sudden-onset nausea
  • Fainting

If you or any family members begin to feel these symptoms, leave the house immediately and head for the sidewalk or end of the driveway. Open windows and doors on your way out and turn off your heat and any appliances. If symptoms begin to subside in the fresh air, you'll know you have an emergency situation on your hands. Make sure to call for help and do not return to your home without it being seen by a professional.

Schedule a Tuneup, Even in Summer

While most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are due to a malfunctioning furnace or appliances (such as a leaf blower) or automobiles running in a closed or open garage, other fuel-burning appliances can cause the problem, too. Schedule a tuneup with Donnelly's Plumbing Heating and Cooling and you can rest peacefully once our techs have checked for any contamination in your home. Members of our Gold Star Program receive these tuneups twice per year, so you'll have extra security and peace of mind. To schedule service or find out more about our Gold Star Program, give us a call at (215) 855-2014 or contact us online at any time!

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Topics: Heating, Home Safety

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