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CO is an odourless, colourless and poisonous gas, which is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels. In a home, this poisonous gas can be produced by gas or oil furnaces, space and water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, wood stoves and other household appliances that run on fossil fuels such as wood, gas, oil or coal. Other sources can consist of tobacco smoke and the idling of a car in a garage.

 

How to Test a Carbon Monoxide Tester

The majority of CO detectors have a test button right on the unit itself. This button should be pressed once per week. When the button is pressed, you should hear the alarm sound, if not, replace the battery or the unit depending on the installation type (e.g. battery or hard-wired).

Some CO detectors have a display which shows actual CO levels in parts per million (ppm). These units do not normally have a test button. So, in order to test these units, you need to use a known source of CO such as smoke from a cigarette or an incense stick. Bring the CO source 8 – 10 inches from the detector and watch the display. The detector should respond with a low level of CO. The alarm is not likely to sound in this case as the level of CO would not be high enough to be considered an unsafe level.

   

The Canada Safety Council states that CO is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America. Carbon Monoxide is harmful to people when it is inhaled. It prohibits the lungs from absorbing oxygen into the bloodstream and poisons the red blood cells so they cannot carry oxygen. When tissues in the body do not receive a constant supply of oxygen, they stop functioning.

Below are some general symptoms of CO based on the concentration levels:

  • Mild Concentrations – dizziness, nausea, headache, shortness of breath
  • Medium Concentrations – impaired vision/hearing, severe headache, fainting
  • High Concentrations – unconsciousness, coma, death

The best way to eliminate the risk of CO poisoning is to not let it into your home. Below is a list from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of things you can do to minimize the risk of CO in your home:

  • Have a qualified technician inspect and clean fuel burning appliances yearly
  • Have a qualified technician inspect chimneys and vents yearly for cracks, blockages (e.g. bird’s nests, twigs and old mortar), corrosion or holes
  • Check fireplaces for closed or ­blocked flues
  • Check with a qualified technician before enclosing heating and hot water equipment in a smaller room, to ensure there is adequate air for proper combustion
  • If you have a powerful kitchen exhaust fan or downdraft cook top, have a qualified technician check that it’s operation does not pull fumes back down the chimney
  • Never use propane or natural gas stove tops or ovens to heat your home
  • Never start a vehicle in a closed garage; open the garage doors first. Pull the car out immediately onto the driveway, then close the garage door ­to prevent exhaust fumes from being drawn into the house
  • Do not use a remote automobile starter when the car is in the garage: even if the garage doors are open carbon monoxide will seep into the house
  • Regularly clean the clothes dryer ductwork and outside vent cover for blockages such as lint, snow, or­ overgrown outdoor plants
  • If you live close to a road with heavy traffic, outdoor carbon monoxide levels can affect your indoor air quality, especially during rush hour, so keep windows closed

Although you may take all necessary precautions, there are still the possibilities of CO entering your home. Ensure that your home has CO detectors on every level and close to areas where you sleep. Make sure you test your CO detectors weekly because if it does not function properly, it is useless. Also, the use of a central air filtration system with an activated carbon filter will help rid this poisonous gas from your home.

   
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above call Home Heroes immediately for an inspection of your home.
   
 
 
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