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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Heating System

Carbon Monoxide poisoning kills 400 Americans every year and sends 20,000 to the hospital, according to the CDC. Leaking furnaces or boilers are one of the most common causes of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning— every year without fail.

Odorless, colorless and very deadly, carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning fuel to heat your home. Even small leaks in your boiler or furnace can expose you to a deadly amount of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide poisoning directly relates to running your heating system. So winter weather means it’s time to get informed and take precautions to keep safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Household Sources of Carbon Monoxide:

  • Gas Furnaces
  • Oil Furnaces
  • Gas Boilers
  • Oil Boilers
  • Wood fireplaces
  • Wood pellet stoves

Running a wood stove or a pellet stove is pleasant but very OPTIONAL. Heating your home in the winter with furnace or boiler is ESSENTIAL! That makes keeping protected from carbon monoxide poisoning necessary, too!

How Does Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Occur

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the term used for when carbon monoxide displaces oxygen that our bodies need to function. Since our muscles, organs and our brains all require a constant supply of oxygen to function, the damage from carbon monoxide poisoning is extensive.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Symptoms

Survivors of carbon monoxide poisoning compare the feeling to being sick with the flu.

These symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Physical weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Losing consciousness close to the source of the carbon monoxide often results in death.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: long term impact

People who survive carbon monoxide poisoning often experience lifelong effects. The severity correlates to the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and the length of the victim’s exposure.

  • Long and short term memory loss
  • Permanent cognitive impairment
  • Personality changes
  • Vision impairment
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Loss of bladder control

Compromised Heating System = Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Feeling anxious?

Well, although carbon monoxide poising is extremely dangerous, if your boiler or furnace is running properly, you are safe—100%!

Only a compromised boiler or furnace will release potent levels of carbon monoxide.

Most common heating system defects that release carbon monoxide.

  • Cracks in combustion chamber
  • Leaking seams
  • Cracks in exhaust piping
  • Incomplete combustion process

An older furnace is more likely to experience these deadly issues. Ordinary wear & tear can cause this simple but deadly damage.

What can you do?

Carbon Monoxide Detector

First things first, place carbon monoxide detectors around your house. Carbon monoxide detectors are as essential as smoke detectors. These electronic devices emit noise when they detect a sufficient amount of carbon monoxide.

Since carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, this is the ONLY way to detect the dangerous gas.


To maximize their effectiveness, place one near your heating system and place one on every floor. If your carbon monoxide detector alarms, evacuate your house.

Test your carbon monoxide detectors as regularly as you test your smoke alarms.

Limits to Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are your first line of defense against the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. They are a necessity in every home.

However, carbon monoxide detectors can ONLY detect extremely high levels of carbon monoxide. Levels that would qualify as acute exposure.

Carbon monoxide detectors fail to detect smaller, yet still potent levels of the dangerous gas. Chronic exposure to those low levels of carbon monoxide can lead to the same dangerous, life-changing symptoms as acute exposure.

Your furnace can be leaking carbon monoxide into your home for weeks, and your carbon monoxide detectors could miss it.

The only way to 100% ensure you and your family’s safety is to schedule an inspection and tuneup with an HVAC expert.

Annual Furnace Tuneup

When you schedule a yearly inspection with one our HVAC experts, they examine your boiler or furnace for damage that cause carbon monoxide leaks.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning with a furnace tuneup.

A yearly One Hour Air tuneup will ensure, any damage is found BEFORE the system runs and releases carbon monoxide.

In fact, the CDC strongly recommends having a qualified HVAC technician tuneup your furnace or boiler, stating:

“Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.”

The older your heating system, the more essential an annual tuneup becomes. If your heating system is leaking or at risk to leak the One Hour Air technician will fix it on the spot, ensuring you and your family are NEVER exposed to carbon monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Wrap-Up

As you begin to run your heating system, you need to be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide positioning. The odorless, colorless, tasteless gas kills 400 people every year and injures thousands more.

Your necessary heating system is responsible for much of the danger—you need to stay protected.

You know exactly what to do:

Treat your carbon monoxide detectors with the same importance as your smoke detectors.

Sign up for a protection plan to ensure you have a tuneup performed annually — without fail.

If you know someone else would benefit from this information, please share this blog and the CDC website. It could save a life.

Contact us for a furnace or boiler tuneup to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

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