Over the past two decades, more and more people have added CO monitors, or carbon monoxide detectors, to their homes.
Today, 27 states and the District of Columbia require residential dwellings to have them.
But, why are they so important? The biggest reason is that they protect your health. A CO monitor can prevent illness and even death.
We’ll look at why you need a CO monitor in your home. We’ll also discuss what to do if yours alerts you to carbon monoxide in the house.
CO monitors detect a silent, lethal threat
A CO monitor measures for traces of carbon monoxide in the air. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. This makes it impossible to detect just with your own senses.
However, CO exposure causes flu-like symptoms. People experience dizziness and weakness, and headaches and chest pain. Exposure also causes upset stomachs, vomiting and a general sense of confusion.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is lethal when there’s a lot of it in the air. When you breathe it in, the CO attaches to hemoglobin in your body. Hemoglobin is what carries oxygen in your blood. The more carbon monoxide it carries, the less oxygen it can deliver to your body.
This makes it especially dangerous for people who are sleeping, drunk or already sick. The symptoms won’t wake anyone up. And, people won’t react properly if they think they just have a cold or don’t feel them at all.
This is why CO poisoning is often referred to as a “silent killer.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 550 people died each year from 1999 to 2010.
The numbers may be even worse than that. A 2018 Washington Post article states that some health professionals believe there are 2,000 CO poisoning deaths per year. Carbon monoxide may also be responsible for 200,000 emergency room visits annually.
That’s what makes a CO monitor so important. It alerts you to carbon monoxide in the air before symptoms set in. It can also wake you up if you’re sleeping while the gas builds up.
A CO monitor can alert you to HVAC problems
Fortunately, carbon monoxide doesn’t just show up out of nowhere. It’s a byproduct of burning fuel. Because of this, a CO monitor can also clue you into an HVAC problem in your home.
Burning natural gas, oil or wood in a furnace or stove creates small amounts of carbon monoxide. This usually is not dangerous, however. That’s because the appliances are designed to prevent CO from getting into the air.
When the system isn’t working, you end up with carbon monoxide buildups in your home. This is why a CO monitor in your home is extremely important. You won’t smell, see or taste anything. The monitor will let you know when it is present.
And, once you’ve gotten yourself out of danger, you can tackle another problem. Specifically, what’s causing the CO buildup?
One of the most common problems is venting. It could be a new problem, like a bird’s nest blocking your outside vents. Perhaps your chimney is getting old or your ductwork has holes in it.
It’s also possible that your vents were never properly installed. Now, there’s buildup.
A CO monitor going off can also alert you to a costly problem: a cracked heat exchanger. This is when a key part of your furnace is damaged. When the heat exchanger is cracked, it allows carbon monoxide to seep into your home.
Of course, if your CO monitor goes off, get yourself and your family to safety. After that, you can start looking into what caused the problem.
What to do if your CO monitor starts beeping.
As dangerous as CO poisoning is, it’s important to stay calm if your monitor starts beeping. There are a few easy steps you can take to stay safe.
The first thing to do if your CO monitor goes off is to round up everyone in the house. Make sure no one is sleeping or feeling symptoms.
If everyone is ok, press the reset button on your monitor. This stops the beeping. Then, open your windows and go outside to get fresh air.
You can go back inside and start closing windows if the monitor doesn’t beep again. However, be on the lookout for any symptoms or if the monitor alerts you again within 24 hours. Call an HVAC professional to check your home for problems.
However, if anyone has CO poisoning symptoms, get out as quickly as you can. Call 911 and go to a hospital. You want to make sure the symptoms don’t get any worse.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is dangerous and deadly. Fortunately, CO monitors can keep you safe.
If your CO monitor keeps beeping, you may have a dangerous HVAC problem in your home. Call us at (585) 641-3080 to get a professional out to look at your system immediately!