While carbon monoxide gas (CO) is itself undetectable to the senses, carbon monoxide red flags in your home are visible if you know what to look for. Colorless and odorless, CO is a byproduct of combustion ranging from a wood fire in the fireplace to the kitchen stove to a gas-fired furnace burner. It’s also in the exhaust of internal combustion vehicles and small engines like lawnmowers and electrical generators. Approximately 450 Americans die from carbon monoxide gas every year—many in their sleep, having gone to bed totally unaware that CO from some source was silently filling the house. As many as 8,000 each year have to be hospitalized due to exposure to the gas.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The most important safeguard against the potentially fatal effects of CO is the proper number of functional carbon monoxide detectors in the home. In most residences, one detector per floor plus one in or immediately outside every sleeping area is recommended. Annual tune-up and evaluation of gas-fired systems, particularly the furnace, water heaters and stove, by a qualified professional is also recommended.

Other Carbon Monoxide Red Flags

Because the difference between the concentration of carbon monoxide gas that will sicken versus the amount that will rapidly kill can be quite small, it’s also important to remain alert for carbon monoxide red flags such as:

  • Soot or smoke streaks on or around gas-fired appliances indicating inadequate venting or backdrafting.
  • Noticeable moisture and condensation forming on interior walls and windows. Excess water vapor, a byproduct of combustion, in indoor air may signal an obstructed furnace vent or water heater vent.
  • Rust on the furnace flue or other vent pipes in the house is another sign of inadequate exhaust gas venting.
  • Burner flame in the furnace, water heater or stove that is yellow or orange. Any color other than blue is indicative of incomplete combustion, which may be generating excessive CO gas.
  • Fireplace smoke entering the house due to insufficient upward draft in the chimney.

Contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing about any potential carbon monoxide red flags you may notice in your home.