CO in Residential Heating Systems
When common fuels are burned in a properly designed, installed, vented, and adjusted furnace or other appliance, there shouldn’t be a CO problem. In your propane furnace, when propane is burned, harmless carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour are formed, and useful heat is released.
Small traces of carbon monoxide may also be formed, but these will be harmlessly vented to the outdoors.
But - if the furnace or appliance isn’t functioning properly, excessive amounts of carbon monoxide can be formed. If an appliance that is designed to be vented is not vented, or the venting system isn’t working properly, this carbon monoxide can spill into the living space, creating a hazardous condition.
GET FRESH AIR IMMEDIATELY IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE BREATHING CARBON MONOXIDE!
Carbon Monoxide - a Hidden Hazard.
- People can become sick -and die- from carbon monoxide.
- CO may be produced from smoking a cigarette, vehicle exhaust or burning common heating fuels like wood, coal, fuel oil, kerosene, natural gas and propane.
Where does Carbon Monoxide come from?
- Carbon Monoxide - or CO - is a colourless, odourless gas that may be formed when various fuels are not completely burned.
- High levels of CO can be generated by appliances that are defective, improperly installed, improperly used or improperly maintained.
- CO can enter a building if an appliance venting system or chimney becomes blocked (for example, by a bird’s nest or snow).
Why is it Harmful?
- When inhaled in even small quantities, CO is absorbed into the bloodstream where it interferes with the blood’s ability to transport oxygen.
- Even very small amounts of CO in the air can be highly dangerous.
CO Formation - What conditions often lead to CO formation and infiltration?
- Anything that plugs the vent system: a bird nest, an internal collapse of a masonry chimney, or damage to the vent piping, for example.
- Vent pipes rusting through inside a building.
- A leaking heat exchanger in a furnace or space heater.
- Plugged fresh air vents in crawl spaces, basements, utility rooms, or closets housing a fuel-burning appliance.
- Excessive caulking, sealing, or insulation, or the use of taped plastic storm windows can reduce the natural influx of fresh air and “starve” an appliance of oxygen, causing excessive levels of carbon monoxide to form.
- Improper air adjustment, wrong orifice size, or misalignment within burner systems, which can create excessive amounts of carbon monoxide that may infiltrate indoors if the vent system isn’t working properly.
Follow these Safety Measures.
- Read and follow manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions on all appliances and equipment. Have a qualified technician check the system periodically and make any necessary adjustments to ensure proper combustion.
- Remodeling or repair work around the house may affect how a furnace or appliance performs. Before you do any insulating, caulking or sealing - or before adding an exhaust fan, wood-stove, or fireplace - call a qualified technician to correct conditions that could create carbon monoxide problems.
- Sparlings Propane offers a preventative maintenance service called GASCheck® (Gas Appliance System Check). Inspecting your propane appliances and equipment for proper operation is an integral part of a GASCheck®. We will ease your worries by educating you in how to operate your system safely and answer any questions you may have.
- Consider the protection of 24PROPLUS™ available only at Sparlings.
CO Contamination & Symptoms of Poisoning - What are some common indicators of CO Contamination?
- Chronic headaches, nausea, eye irritation when indoors.
- An unidentified chronic odour inside the building.
- Dying house plants.
- Condensation on cool, indoor surfaces.
- Discolouration, or soot build up, at warm air outlets of the heating system.
- If you suspect CO poisoning is affecting your family, leave your home and call Sparlings. Ask for a technician to check for the presence of carbon monoxide.
Remember: Exposure to CO can be Hazardous - even Deadly.
CO may produce flu like symptoms:
- irregular breathing
- eye irritation
Over time, CO poisoning may result in confusion, disorientation, physical collapse and death. The very young, the elderly, people with heart disease, and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication are particularly susceptible.
Be sure to take corrective action whenever you suspect a problem with your heating system or experience any of the symptoms or conditions described.
If you suspect the presence of carbon monoxide (CO)
- Get everyone to fresh air immediately.
- Open windows and doors to air out the room or building.
- Turn off the suspected appliance - and keep it off until any problem is corrected.
- Seek medical assistance if symptoms persist.
- Call Sparlings.
CO Detectors may Help.
Carbon Monoxide detectors are commercially available, and they may provide additional warning about the presence of this "hidden hazard". Not all detectors have the same sensitivity.
Always read and follow manufacturer's instructions.