HVAC Safety Tips: Residential Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious health consequences, including death. Protecting your business against carbon monoxide leaks is an important part of standard safety measures.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide Leaks and How to Fix Them

Carbon monoxide isn’t easily detected, since the gas can’t be seen and has no odor. Carbon monoxide detectors often aren’t enough to keep your business safe, as by time the gas reaches the detectors, it has already done considerable damage. Knowing the signs of carbon monoxide leaks and protecting your business against them can prevent costly damages and possible irreparable situations.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), those who have been exposed to low carbon monoxide levels for prolonged periods can experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and nausea. Those with heart conditions may also experience chest pain. Carbon monoxide detectors are set up to alert occupants of deadly levels of carbon monoxide, but not low levels. If some of your building’s occupants experience these symptoms, have a professional come in to check for carbon monoxide.

Whom to Contact to Find and Prevent Leaks

HVAC contractors are qualified to check for carbon monoxide leaks, because the leaks mainly come from ventilation problems and heating systems. Not only can the contractors check for leaks, but they can also help prevent them from occurring. Having a standing relationship with an HVAC contractor can also help speed up any emergent action should your building become subject to a dangerous carbon monoxide issue.

What the HVAC Contractor Will Do

In the fall before the weather gets cold, schedule a maintenance visit with your HVAC contractor. The contractor or a qualified technician will inspect your furnace, vents, fireplaces, chimneys and fuel-burning appliances. This way, the contractor can address any issues that would likely lead to a leak and take preventive measures against them.

Be sure that the maintenance visit also includes an inspection of the furnace’s heat exchanger. Not all HVAC companies perform this important step, but a leaking heat exchanger is the most common cause of carbon monoxide leaks. Heat exchangers can become cracked, corroded or develop holes, but since the furnace still works, you may not notice. However, carbon monoxide can go through the ventilation system through the exchanger.

What to Do if Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Goes Off

If your detector has gone off, there are immediate steps you will want to take, including the following:

  • Evacuate the building.
  • Call the fire department.
  • Do a head count of those who were inside the building.
  • Turn off your heating system and appliances.
  • Open all windows and doors.
  • Get a qualified technician in to determine what caused the leak.

Regular maintenance of your furnace and related equipment can go a long way toward preventing a carbon monoxide leak in your building. Such leaks are extremely dangerous and can cause injury or death. To makes sure your building is ready for the cold season, contact your HVAC contractor today.

Check out our blog for additional information on heating, cooling and more.


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