Many home systems and appliances produce a level of carbon monoxide when used. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible byproduct of burning fuel not completely burned during use. Everyday levels of carbon monoxide are not harmful. However, improper ventilation, misuse or malfunctions of furnaces, gas ranges, stoves and fireplaces can pose a higher risk of carbon monoxide accumulation.  

Monitoring of carbon monoxide is particularly important during winter. In cold weather, homeowners increase their use of furnaces, gas ranges, stoves and fireplaces. With doors and windows tightly closed, carbon monoxide has less room to escape in the event of a leak. 

Read on for some simple, precautionary steps to help limit your family’s exposure to carbon monoxide this winter season.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Each floor of your home should have a carbon monoxide detector in place.  Check and test the batteries in your detectors at least twice a year, ideally when the clocks change for spring and fall. If the alarm goes off intermittently, that means batteries need to be replaced. An authentic alarm would sound continuously. The monitors should be replaced every 10 years.

Use Fireplaces Responsibly

While a fireplace adds a cozy, warm atmosphere to your home on a cold winter night, the burning process releases some carbon monoxide. Be sure to keep the chimney flues open when the fireplace is in use. Close the flue only when the fire is completely out and the coals are cold. In addition, have chimneys professionally inspected annually.   

Keep Generators and Grills Outside

Tempting as it may be to enjoy grilled meals year-round, never attempt to grill indoors. Also, always keep generators away from the home with a long extension cord. Never operate a generator in a garage or shed. Also, keep generators away from doors, windows and air intake. 

Furthermore, never operate any machine with a combustion engine in an enclosed area – even with windows or doors open 

Keep Outdoor Vents Clear

During and after a snowstorm, check and clear snow away from vents of your furnace, dryer, stove and fireplace. Blocked vents prevent carbon monoxide from escaping and can push gas back inside the home. Create a path free of snow about two to three feet around each vent. Remove any ice from vent openings. 

Maintain Regular, Professional Inspections

Have a qualified technician inspect and service your water heater, furnace, fireplace and all appliances running on gas, oil, wood or coal. Inspections should occur annually. Any equipment using natural gas will produce a clear blue flame. If the flame is yellow or orange, it may be an indicator the appliance is in need of a tune-up. A trained service professional can spot and make necessary adjustments, saving you stress, worry and potential repair costs down the road.

 Find a friendly, professional home inspector near you at WIN Home Inspection for all your home inspection needs.