Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, poisonous gas that can make you ill or kill you. It can be produced when combustion of any fuel – heating oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, kerosene, natural gas, coal or wood – occurs without sufficient oxygen.
CO can accumulate
Common sources include running gasoline engines indoors, burning charcoal inside the house, inadequately vented fuel-burning space heating or water-heating equipment, and blocked chimneys or vent pipes. The only way to tell if carbon monoxide is present is with a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector.
- If your natural gas heating system has air filters, clean or replace them regularly before they become clogged with dirt. Install new filters per the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep the area around your furnace clean and free from litter, obstructions and combustible materials.
- Never store flammable liquids in your home or near fuel-burning appliances. The vapors can be ignited by pilot lights.
Guard against CO poisoning
Properly working carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level. Exposure to a low concentration over several hours can be as dangerous as exposure to high carbon monoxide levels for a few minutes. Newer model sensors will detect both conditions. Reduce carbon monoxide poisoning risks by:
- Having your heating system and any fuel-burning appliances and equipment inspected by a qualified professional every year, preferably before the start of each heating season
- Periodically checking vents, flue pipes and chimneys for corrosion or blockages
- Never using a vehicle or fuel-burning equipment in an enclosed space
- Never using barbecue grills indoors, or a range or oven as a space heater
- Installing at least one UL-listed carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, and following the manufacturer's installation and operating instructions