Carbon Monoxide "CO":




Carbon Monoxide is the #1 cause of poisonings in the U.S. Yet less than 5% of all CO Poisonings are reported! The safe and efficient operation of your heating equipment and other combustion appliances cannot be determined without testing using a calibrated combustion analyzer. Because the technology, instruments and training to do this testing correctly has only been available for a few years, odds are itís never been done. Your service technician should be certified to properly test and diagnose potential CO exposure.


Why Should I Demand A CO Test?


Itís About Your Health, Safety and Comfort Carbon monoxide, even in small quantities can cause serious health problems, particularly in children and the elderly. Millions of unsuspecting homeowners are exposed to low levels of CO and donít even know it. Unfortunately U.L. Listed CO alarms donít go off until your family has been exposed to 70 ppm (parts per million) for over 3-1/2 hours! Most international limits for unsafe levels, including OSHA and the World Health Organizationís guidelines are between at 15-35 ppm. Carbon monoxide can come from additional sources in your home besides your heating equipment, and they should be checked. These sources include your Water Heater, Gas Range, Gas Logs, Space Heater, Boiler Ė even an attached garage.


Even New Equipment Needs to Be Tested


Anytime equipment is installed, itís being exposed to conditions in which it has never been tested to perform. Venting systems, combustion air, duct systems, additional appliances in the building, building pressure etc., can all affect its operation. Besides that, after leaving the factory itís likely your equipment has been loaded and unloaded on trucks and transported several times. Vibration and shock can cause components to shift and move. The only way to truly know if your new equipment is operating safely and efficiently is to test it once itís been installed. Better Contractors Donít Guess - They Measure If CO testing is part of your Contractorís normal protocols he will advise you of this prior to servicing or installing equipment. Odds are when the tech walks into you house heíll be carrying some type of CO Monitor to immediately check if unsafe CO levels are present. When working on the equipment, he will likely drill a hole in the flue of the appliance, and insert the probe of an electronic combustion analyzer to check actual burner performance. Additional performance testing might require holes to be drilled into the ductwork as well. Once heís finished testing he should provide documentation and review his results with you



The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission

CPSC Warns That The Deadly Threat Of Carbon Monoxide Can Be Stopped By A Yearly Professional Inspection

September 20, 1996
Release # 96-189

Washington, D.C. -- Having your home inspected each year at the beginning of the heating season can help avoid deadly carbon monoxide gas from leaking into your home, according to Chairman Ann Brown of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"CO poisoning from the use of fuel burning appliances kills at least 200 people each year and sends more than 5,000 to hospital emergency rooms for treatment," Brown said. "Consumers can avoid this tragedy by having their fuel-burning appliances inspected by a qualified technician each year, and by purchasing and installing CO detectors that meet the requirements of the Oct. 1, 1995 Underwriters Laboratories standards."

CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any fuel. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, and include dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea and irregular breathing. High level exposure to CO can cause death.

"Modern heating equipment is sophisticated and requires special training and tools for proper maintenance," Brown said. "CPSC recommends that consumers should not service their own appliances, but instead have a qualified professional perform an inspection."

A yearly inspection of your home by a professional should include a careful look at the following sources of carbon monoxide:

  • Furnaces, hot water heaters and stoves. If they burn natural gas, heating oil, wood or other kinds of fuel, these appliances are potential sources of CO.

  • Chimneys, flues and vents. Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for leakage and for blockage by creosote or debris. Creosote buildup or leakage could cause black stains on the outside of the chimney or flue. These stains can mean that pollutants are leaking into the house. Have all vents to furnaces, water heaters or boilers checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.

  • High Temperature Plastic Venting (HTPV) pipes. CPSC has received reports that high temperature plastic venting (HTPV) pipes -- which are used in mid-efficiency appliances -- may separate or crack. This could allow CO from the furnace to enter a home. The CPSC is currently investigating this problem. Homeowners with a gas-fired mid-efficiency furnace or boiler installed between 1987 and 1993 should have them inspected for cracking or separating.

  • Improper ventilation. Make sure that your appliances have adequate ventilation. A supply of fresh air is important to help carry pollutants up the chimney, stovepipe or flue, and is necessary for the complete combustion of any fuel.

Finally, consumers should be aware that charcoal grills can also be a potential source of CO. Never use charcoal grills in enclosed spaces such as a home, garage, vehicle or tent, and never bring grills with live coals indoors after use. Never use charcoal grills as an indoor heat source.

"Carbon monoxide is a deadly threat, but it can be avoided by having a yearly professional inspection of your home fuel burning appliances and by installing a CO detector that meets the most recent UL standards," Brown said.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's web site at or via Internet gopher services at Consumers can report product hazards to