Traverse City Home Inspections LLC

Traverse City Home Inspections LLC

March 12, 2015 10:45 ET

Carbon Monoxide a Silent Killer Warns Timothy Evans of Traverse City Home Inspections

Timothy Evans of Traverse City Home Inspections (www.welcome-home-inspections.com), a full-service home inspection company serving in Traverse City and northwest Michigan, offers homeowners advice on what to look out for to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in the home.

TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN--(Marketwired - March 12, 2015) - "It has been a very cold winter in central/eastern USA, and in many homes, furnaces are running overtime. Increased load on a heating appliance can mean increased problems. Small issues like poor combustion or venting issues can escalate into bigger concerns, including the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Furnaces and their associated service requirements are one of those things that frequently get overlooked. There is constant wear and tear on these appliances. Just because everything seemed fine last year, it doesn't mean it's going to be ok into the next heating season," says Timothy Evans of Traverse City Home Inspections LLC (www.welcome-home-inspections.com), a full-service Traverse City home inspection company serving the west Michigan counties of Leelanau, Antrim, Benzie, Manistee, Wexford, Kalkaska, and Grand Traverse.

"Carbon monoxide is an insidious danger because it's a silent killer. You just fall asleep and don't wake up. We inspect many Traverse City homes, and it's scary how often we identify a furnace related problem that could pose a carbon monoxide risk. It's really important to inspect fuel-burning appliances and venting of the home. Many new home buyers understandably don't have this kind of thing on their radar, but it is probably the most dangerous high-risk condition that one can encounter in a home. Many people get sick not knowing the problem exists and people die every year in CO overexposed conditions. It's totally preventable and usually a low- cost fix," explains Evans.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odourless, and tasteless gas that is less dense than air. It is toxic to humans when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm. On average, 170 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States each year. Carbon monoxide is produced from the partial burning of carbon-containing compounds and it results when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) in an enclosed space.

Carbon monoxide is highly toxic and the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries. It combines with hemoglobin to produce carboxyhemoglobin, which uses up the volume in hemoglobin that normally carries oxygen. Concentrations as low as 667 parts per million may cause up to half of the body's hemoglobin to convert over to carboxyhemoglobin. At that level, carboxyhemoglobin can cause seizures, coma, and death. Carbon monoxide absorption is cumulative since the half-life is about 5 hours in fresh air. Essentially it starves the body's organs of oxygen essential to life.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to other illnesses including symptoms such as disorientation, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness and fatigue. People often believe they have food poisoning. Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. People with greater oxygen requirements like unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens are at higher risk. Carbon monoxide can be produced by home appliances like gas and oil furnaces, gas clothes dryers, gas cooking ranges, gas water heaters, heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves.

If a home is vented properly and has no appliance combustion or exhaust malfunctions, carbon monoxide is normally safely vented outside of the home. In energy efficient homes, this is sometimes not the case. Tightly sealed homes can trap in carbon monoxide year round. Furnace heat exchangers can fracture, exhaust vents can become blocked, inadequate air supply for combustion appliances can cause poor combustion, and back-drafting can push contaminated exhaust back into the home. Exhaust fans on range hoods, clothes dryers and bathroom fans can also pull contaminated exhaust back into the house.

Furnaces are frequently the source of carbon monoxide leaks and should be carefully inspected. Evans offers a list of what to look out for during a home inspection.

  • Have a professional check the concentration of carbon monoxide in flue gases
  • Check joints of flue pipes and vents to outside of the home for corrosion, gaps or holes ... also animals and birds can build nests in chimneys or exhaust vents preventing gases from escaping.
  • Check furnace filters for blockages
  • Check forced air fans for the correct air flow of flue gases
  • Inspect the combustion chamber and internal heat exchanger of the furnace for debris cracks and corrosion
  • Check the furnace burners and ignition system

"Furnace and exhaust inspection is not something you want to ignore. Carbon monoxide in sufficient quantities is a killer, but any amount of carbon monoxide in the home is not healthy for your family," says Evans.

About Traverse City Home Inspections: Providing customers with the information they need to know when selling or buying a home, Traverse City Home Inspections offers fast and professional home inspections, seven days a week and is certified by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Home Inspectors Training Institute (AHIT). Serving Northwest Michigan and the greater Traverse City area, Traverse City Home Inspections, provides the best home inspection and specialty inspection services in Michigan with qualified home inspectors that have top credentials through extensive training and continuing education. For more information about Traverse City Home Inspections, visit their website at www.welcome-home-inspections.com or call 231-929-3525

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