Winter and Carbon Monoxide

It is important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. However, carbon monoxide detectors do not replace the need for prevention through yearly maintenance and inspection of heating systems and appliances.

  • Smoke inhalation from fires is the most common form of carbon monoxide poisoning. Cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust are the most common sources of regular carbon monoxide exposure.
  • There must be an adequate supply of air for complete burning or combustion, or an excessive amount of carbon monoxide will accumulate indoors. Ensure that your wood stove or fireplace is not competing – for long periods of time – with your clothes dryer, kitchen, bathroom and attic vent fans, central vacuum cleaners and kitchen barbecues, which exhaust air from the home and so starve the furnace or the fireplace of oxygen.
  • Proper venting of fuel-burning appliances to the outside is also essential to prevent collection of carbon monoxide gas inside buildings.
  • Never insulate or try to seal up a drafty hood, wind cap or exhaust vent on any natural gas appliance (furnace, water heater, range, dryer, space heater or fireplace). Keep all fuel-burning equipment free of lint, dust and trash. Don't store anything close to the equipment that could restrict air circulation.
  • Do a visual inspection of the equipment to look for signs of equipment problems, such as soot on a fireplace face, water collecting near a burner or rusted venting. If even a small doubt exists, have the equipment inspected by a qualified technician.
  • Periodically check vent pipes between gas appliances and the chimney for corrosion or rust.
  • Equipment that uses natural gas should show a clear blue flame—a yellow or orange flame may indicate a problem. If a problem appears, call a qualified technician.
  • Ensure a source of fresh air is available, for an example an open window or flue, when operating a wood-burning fireplace.
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