What’s In This Article?
If you’re like most homeowners and business owners, you probably don’t think about carbon monoxide leaks until it’s too late. Unfortunately, by then, it’s often difficult to determine the source of the leak and fix it.
This blog post will discuss how to test for carbon monoxide and how often you should inspect your HVAC unit for leaks. We’ll also provide tips on keeping your family and employees safe from this deadly gas.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced when fuel is burned. It’s found in combustion fumes, such as furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and grills.
CO leaks into your home can quickly build up to dangerous levels. Even small leaks can be deadly if they go undetected. That’s why it’s essential to know how to test carbon monoxide in your home. Often, CO is also known as “the silent killer.” The Center for Disease Control estimates that 450 people die of CO poisoning, and around 20,000 are admitted to the emergency room.
How to Test for Carbon Monoxide
There are a few different ways you can test for carbon monoxide in your home:
- Buy a CO detector. This is the most reliable way to test for CO leaks. In addition, CO detectors are inexpensive, and most hardware stores have a wide selection.
- Look for symptoms of CO poisoning. These include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. If you or your family members experience these symptoms, you must get out of the house immediately and call 911.
- Inspect your HVAC unit. Every six months, you should inspect your HVAC unit for leaks. Look for soot or stains around the furnace and cracks in the exhaust pipes. If you see anything suspicious, call a professional to take a look.
- Install CO detectors in your business. If you own a business, it’s required by law to have CO detectors installed. When lethal levels of CO are detected, the alarm will sound, and the ventilation system will turn on to protect employees.
How Often Should My HVAC Unit Be Inspected?
An HVAC technician should inspect your unit for carbon monoxide leaks at least once a year. However, if you have an older home or your family has a history of CO poisoning, it’s a good idea to have it inspected more frequently.
It’s better to have it inspected more often during the cooler months because the symptoms of CO poisoning may be mistaken for the flu. Such an error would be fatal, but fortunately avoidable. If your HVAC unit frequently leaks, you may want to consider replacing it. A new HVAC unit will be more energy-efficient and less likely to spread. However, if your units are in great shape, you’ll need to ensure that a thorough inspection is performed regularly.
Where are HVAC Units Most Likely to Leak CO?
HVAC units are more likely to leak CO near the furnace or ductwork. If your home has an attached garage, it’s also essential to have the HVAC unit inspected for leaks in that area. For instance, most inspections don’t examine the Heat Exchangers; unfortunately, here is where CO leaks are common in oil and gas furnaces.
What is a Heat Exchanger? This unit’s job is to circulate the poisonous gases leftover from combustion away from the ductwork and out of your home or office building. In time, this unit will develop small cracks, corrosion, and holes that poisonous gases will escape from and enter your ventilation system. Unfortunately, these issues won’t be as apparent because the unit will still function; therefore, inspections are necessary to rule out leaks from this area.
Leaks can also manifest as a result of block vents or clogged chimney flues. The ventilation system funnels these deadly gases out of your living space, but over time they get clogged up with dust and debris. Sometimes these blockages manifest for years before they become a problem; occasionally, even animals nesting in these areas will lead to issues. Again, regular cleaning and inspections can alleviate these issues.
What To Do When Your Detectors Go Off?
It’s necessary to consider the procedures if your detectors do go off. What if you’re servicing customers in your business or your family is home for the night and sleeping? Either way, the process is virtually the same when the alarms sound.
- Evacuate the Building – As soon as the alarm sounds, you’ll need to evacuate if you can and open doors and windows on your way out to ventilate the building.
- Call 911 – As soon as you’re safe from the building, call 911. The fire department will be able to determine the levels of CO in the building and act accordingly.
- Do a Head Count – Whether at home or your business, you’ll need to do a head count to make sure everyone made it out safely. Once you’re certain everyone is accounted for, you can wait for the fire department outside.
- Turn off the heating system or appliances – Once the fire department gives you the all-clear, you can go back inside and turn off the heating system or any devices that may have been running when the alarm sounded.
- Hire a Qualified Expert to Fix the Leak – After the problem has been fixed, it’s a good idea to hire a qualified expert to come and inspect your HVAC unit and appliances.
A CO leak can scare potential business clients away from doing business with you as well as a PR nightmare. Therefore, it’s important to schedule regular maintenance and create better procedures to protect your employees, business, family, and yourself.
Hire A Thorough HVAC Company To Ensure That You and Your Family Are Safe
Aspen Air is a family-owned business providing quality HVAC services for over 25 years. We’re dedicated to keeping our customers safe and comfortable in their homes. Our technicians are knowledgeable and experienced in detecting and repairing carbon monoxide leaks.
If you’re concerned about a possible leak in your home, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Contact us today to schedule an inspection of your HVAC unit. We’ll make sure it’s running safely and efficiently all year long.