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Tips That Can Save Your Life

posted by Trusted    |   March 4, 2014 11:45

Gibbon Heating & Air Conditioning has been serving residents of Saskatoon and surrounding areas for over 25 years. The staff at Gibbon are your Trusted Saskatoon Air Conditioning and Furnace experts!

Here, Kate from Gibbon shares some important information about protecting yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. 

You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide (CO), but at high levels, it can kill a person in minutes. It is the leading cause of poisoning death, with over 500 victims each year. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. The amount of CO produced depends mainly on the quality or efficiency of combustion. A properly functioning burner, whether natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), has efficient combustion and produces little CO. However, an out-of-adjustment burner can produce life-threatening amounts of CO without any visible warning signs. When appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced usually is not hazardous. But if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can collect in an enclosed space. Accidental death from CO poisoning can be caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. 



Common Sources of CO Your Home

Accumulation of combustion gases can occur when a blocked chimney, rusted heat exchanger or broken chimney connector pipe (flue) prevents combustion gases from being exhausted from the home. CO also can enter the home from an idling car or from a lawnmower or generator engine operating in the garage. Another source for CO is backdrafting. When ventilation equipment, such as a range-top vent fan, is used in a tightly sealed home, reverse air flow can occur in chimneys and flues. An operating fireplace also can interact with the flue dynamics of other heating appliances. Again, backdrafting may result. Other common sources of CO include unvented, fuel-burning space heaters (especially if malfunctioning) and indoor use of a charcoal barbeque grill. CO is produced by gas stoves and ranges and can become a problem with prolonged, improper operation -- for example, if these appliances are used to heat the home. Flame color does not necessarily indicate CO production. However, a change in the gas flame's color can indicate a CO problem. If a blue flame becomes yellow, CO often is increased. While larger combustion appliances are designed to be connected to a flue or chimney to exhaust combustion byproducts, some smaller appliances are designed to be operated indoors without a flue. Appliances designed as supplemental or decorative heaters (including most unvented gas fireplaces) are not designed for continuous use. To avoid excessive exposure to pollutants, never use these appliances for more than four hours at a time. When operating unvented combustion appliances, such as portable space heaters and stoves, follow safe practices. Besides observing fire safety rules, make sure the burner is properly adjusted and there is good ventilation. Never use these items in a closed room. Keep doors open throughout the house, and open a window for fresh air. Never use outdoor appliances such as barbeque grills or construction heaters indoors. Do not use appliances such as ovens and clothes dryers to heat the house. Inspect heating equipment. To reduce the chances of backdrafting in furnaces, fireplaces and similar equipment, make sure flues and chimneys are not blocked. Inspect metal flues for rust. In furnaces, check the heat exchanger for rust and cracks. Soot also is a sign of combustion leakage. When using exhaust fans, open a nearby window or door to provide replacement air.


CO Clues You Can See

  • Rusting or water streaking on vent/chimney
  • Loose or missing furnace panel
  • Sooting
  • Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections
  • Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace or appliance
  • Loose masonry on chimney
  • Moisture inside of windows


CO Clues You Cannot See

  • Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components
  • Improper burner adjustment
  • Hidden blockage or damage in chimney

Only a trained service technician can detect hidden problems and correct these conditions!



* Never leave a car running in a garage, even with the garage door open.

* Never burn charcoal in houses, tents, vehicles or garages.

* Never install or service combustion appliances without proper knowledge, skills and tools.

* Never use a gas range, oven or dryer for heating.

* Never operate unvented gas-burning appliances in a closed room or in a room in which you are sleeping.


Prevention Is the Key

At the beginning of every heating season, have a trained professional check all your fuel-burning appliances: oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition and not blocked. Whenever possible, choose appliances that vent fumes to the outside. Have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers' instructions. Read and follow all instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use the proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel burning. 

Gibbon is a "total service" company with trained technicians who are able to provide customers with solutions to all their heating, air conditioning, and plumbing related requirements. If you are interested in having an expert in carbon monoxide safety come into your home to evaluate your heating system and appliances, give Gibbon a call at (306) 343-9576, or find them online

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