Homeowners in Destin and other parts of the Florida Panhandle should always be aware of the threat of carbon monoxide (CO). While not something you hear about every day, it is something you should know how to recognize and prevent. If any element of your HVAC system uses gas to fuel it, there is a risk of carbon monoxide in your home. The good news is that, with the right knowledge, you can reduce your risk or, at least, detect it early so that a professional can fix any issues and rid your home of excessive carbon monoxide.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a type of poisonous gas that has no taste or odor. Incomplete burning of carbons from fuels causes the formation of this gas. It strongly binds to one of hemoglobin’s iron compounds, called heme, which is a type of protein. This protein is responsible for delivering oxygen to your body’s tissues. Once carbon monoxide binds to this protein, it alters its function and makes it harder for the blood to carry oxygen. As a result, the tissues don’t get the amount of oxygen they need for normal function.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Once carbon monoxide causes enough disruption in the body, poisoning can occur. While the heart and brain are among the organs that suffer the most, this poisoning affects all parts of the body.

In the United States each year, carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for approximately 400 deaths, 4,000 hospitalizations, and 20,000 emergency room visits. Collapse and disorientation can occur when the levels of this gas in the body reach 150 parts per million.

When someone has carbon monoxide poisoning, it can cause several symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Shortness of breath

When they have CO poisoning, some people say they feel as though they have the flu. In the most severe cases, unconsciousness and death are possible.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Get into Your Home?

If you have any fuel-burning appliances, there is always a risk that carbon monoxide levels in your home will get too high. However, there are certain situations that can make the risk higher. Should you notice any of these problems, call an HVAC professional right away to fix the issue.

If the heat exchanger on your furnace has a crack, this can allow CO to start traveling throughout your residence. It will come through with the heated air, so unless your detector sounds, you will likely not know that the issue is happening until someone starts experiencing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some homes have a furnace that is not the right size for the space. In these instances, the furnace is going to work harder to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. Regardless of whether the furnace is too big or too small, it will still overwork.

The filters on your furnace need to be regularly changed to work properly. A clog in a filter can put too much stress on your furnace. In fact, it is one of the reasons that the heat exchanger can start to crack.

Improper venting of your fuel-burning appliances is another reason that carbon monoxide accumulates. If the gas cannot escape through the vent system, it remains in your home where the levels can start to build up over time.

Detecting Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

You should have carbon monoxide detectors in your home to alert you if the levels ever get too high. Twice a year when you set your clocks for the time change, you should also change the batteries in your detector. This is an easy way to ensure that your detectors always have fresh batteries.

Make sure that the placement of your detectors allows you to easily hear them if they sound. Having one by each bedroom is a good way to make sure that everyone in your home can hear the warning even when they are sleeping.

Every year, you should consider getting a professional to inspect your home. They can check out all of the fuel-burning appliances to make sure that these are in good working order. If they recommend a fix, make sure to have them tackle it promptly to prevent this gas from becoming a problem.

If you smell gas anywhere in your home, get out quickly and call for help. While carbon monoxide does not have an odor, if you smell natural gas, there is a risk that carbon monoxide levels are rising, too.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

There are things that you can do to prevent carbon monoxide in your home. One of the biggest is to install detectors. These will let you know when the level of this gas is too high so that you can get out and address the issue causing the high level.

If you have a gas stove, you should only use it exactly as it is intended. Using it as a heat source could cause too much carbon monoxide to accumulate in your home. The same is true for outdoor camp stoves. You must only use one of these outdoors since indoor use could cause the level of this gas in your home to get too high.

Always keep your fireplace clean and in good condition. Having a professional come and clean your flue and chimney annually is a good way to keep it in good condition and safe for use.

If you park your vehicle in the garage, always open the garage door before starting it. This prevents carbon monoxide from building up in this small space while your vehicle is warming up.

Look at your fuel-burning appliances and their placement. There should be sufficient space and ventilation for each of these appliances. This will allow the gas to escape your home so that it is not able to accumulate. Whenever you get a new gas appliance, make sure that a professional HVAC technician installs it so that you can ensure proper placement and functioning.

Keep up with the maintenance of your chimney. You should make sure that it is free from debris so that air can flow freely in and out. If any repairs are necessary, contact a professional to tackle them as soon as you can.

If you use a generator during a storm or power outage, ensure proper use and placement. It must have a lot of ventilation and never come indoors. If the generator is in an enclosed space, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Contact Paradise Home Services for IAQ Services

The risk of carbon monoxide is something that all homeowners in Destin need to think about. While detectors can tell you when it is present, we can help you to reduce the risk of experiencing it. Our indoor air quality services are one way to help you with this. We also offer full HVAC services to help ensure that your system is running properly. This is critical because when your system is working right, the risk of it putting out high levels of this gas is lower.

Contact us at Paradise Home Services today to get whatever help you need with the HVAC system in your Destin home.

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