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
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
The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission
CPSC Warns That The
Deadly Threat Of Carbon Monoxide Can Be Stopped By A Yearly Professional
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
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
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
via Internet gopher services at
cpsc.gov. Consumers can
report product hazards to firstname.lastname@example.org.