Calgary Heating and Air Conditioning: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In Your Home
Although there has been a significant decrease over the years in deaths due to accidents in the home, approximately 400 to 500 people will still die senselessly and without notice due to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. This number is garnered from the thousands of people who were hospitalized due to the effects of accidental CO poisoning, with Fall being the time of year that provides the greatest risk.
Fall is by far the most dangerous time of year for carbon monoxide issues in your home. People are feeling the winter chill seeping into their homes, and as such as starting up furnaces, wood stoves, portable heaters, and boilers for the first time since Spring. Although they start up quickly and appear to be safe and working well, carbon monoxide could be seeping into your home. It’s lethal, because you cannot see it, smell it, or hear it escaping into the air around you. For the little people in your family, including unborn babies, CO is extremely dangerous.
Your furnace or boiler can place you at risk
How new is your furnace? Older heating equipment was based on a system of natural draft. Warm air rises to vent CO efficiently to the outdoors, thus removing the threat of CO in your home environment. Issues would occur when leaks were present. Perhaps your vent pipe was shaken loose, or your pipes experienced metal fatigue from constantly being heated up and therefore caused large cracks. Gases condensing under your chimney can cause leaks, and also corrode metal.
Signs of wear you can see
Taking a look at your furnace vent or chimney, check for rust or water streaks, panels that appear to be missing, or debris scattered around your furnace. Also be sure to look for disconnected pipes, loose hardware that is on your chimney or furnace vent, and moisture inside your interior windows. If you have any doubts at all, it’s always the best course of action to get a professional to perform an inspection immediately.
Hidden dangers from wear and tear you CAN’T see
The most dangerous part of a faulty furnace is that you cannot view internal damage. Even the most handy homeowner can’t establish whether there is hidden, internal damage to the inside parts of your furnace, your vents or blockage in your chimney. It is vitally important to your health and family safety to have a professional check your furnace at the beginning of your yearly heating cycle to ensure it’s proper functioning. Generally the check on your furnace is thought of as ongoing maintenance, including: Tuning the burners, adjusting the flow of the blowers, cleaning the pilot light, checking for adequate gas pressure, setting the dampers, replacing and cleaning your filter, and many other small heating system checks that ensure that your furnace runs properly.
The definition of Backdraft
You may not realize it, but your home has the ability to depressurize. Backdraft occurs when the pressure in your house becomes lower than the pressure of the atmosphere outside of your home. In cases of depressurization, flue gases can cause backdraft. If you sit in front of your fireplace and feel a draft coming in, your home may be depressurized.
If you have a new furnace and appliances, your home will be more efficient and will not release waste heat to the degree that older furnaces do. As the heat waste is not substantial enough to create a natural draft to release combustible gases, these furnaces have power vents and sealed systems. Extra fans are used to remove the gases, and the chance of backdrafting CO spillage is much less with these new furnaces.
Newer, modern gas furnaces and appliances are more efficient and thus release less waste heat. Because the heat is insufficient to create a natural draft to push out the combustion by-products, the furnaces and boilers have power vents and sealed combustion systems. They draw their combustion air from outside the home and use an extra fan to exhaust the combustion gases. The chance of a carbon monoxide leaks from backdrafting is dramatically less with these furnaces.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms
If you have an acute headache, vertigo, signs of confusion, upset stomach, or faintness, you may have carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide is dangerous because once you begin to feel the symptoms; death is a very real possibility. Symptoms also occur with minimal exposure, including inability to catch your breath, slight nausea, and minor headache.
Be aware that the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, and you can mistake these symptoms for a normal illness. Watch for when you exhibit symptoms, such as when you leave home or return home. Feeling ill in your home is a clear sign of CO poisoning. As well, if others are feeling in the same way as you, this is a very good indicator that your symptoms are due to your environment.
Don’t wait to act on your symptoms
If you feel as though you have been exposed to CO, open all doors and windows in your home and turn off any appliances that might be combustible. Leave your home and go to the nearest hospital, telling the physicians that you suspect carbon monoxide exposure. The emergency staff may perform a blood test to confirm CO poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
You should always have carbon monoxide detectors installed, and although they are good back up plan, you should always have your furnace checked regularly. Check out our Calgary furnace rebates for energy upgrades while you are at it.
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