The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to recognize that indoor air pollutants could be more concentrated, and therefore more harmful than the air pollutants outside. There is nothing that should get you overly concerned about the EPA’s new focus, but the EPA’s emphasis on indoor air quality is something to keep in mind as you monitor the indoor air quality of your own home.
Moreover, when talking about indoor air quality, it is always a good idea to be aware of carbon monoxide. As you may know, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. The fact that you cannot see, smell, or taste the toxic carbon monoxide fumes means that it can be very dangerous if you are not aware of how much is in your home.
The effects of carbon monoxide will vary based on your overall health, the concentration of the gas to which you are exposed, and the length of exposure. But, at high levels, exposure to carbon monoxide could be fatal. That is why carbon monoxide is something you need to take seriously.
This blog will discuss the “need to know” information about carbon monoxide, but if you need more detailed information, we invite you to speak to the air conditioning specialists at Aztil Air Conditioning. We provide 24 hour air conditioning service at great prices in and around West Palm Beach, FL. Call us today at 888-729-8452.
What are the Sources of Carbon Monoxide?
Knowing the source of carbon monoxide gas is the most important step to being aware of how to control it. Stripped to its essence, carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of gas or other types of fossil fuels.
Here is a list of the most probable sources of carbon monoxide in your home:
- Kerosene and gas space heaters that are unvented
- Chimneys and furnaces that are leaking
- Tobacco smoke
- Gas stoves
- Furnace, gas water heater, wood stove, and fireplace back drafts
- Exhaust from cars in an attached garage, or even exhaust from nearby roads or parking areas
- Gas ranges that are unvented
- Boilers or furnaces that are worn or have improperly sized, blocked, or disconnected flues
What are the Effects from Exposure to Carbon Monoxide?
As noted above, the effects from exposure to carbon monoxide can vary based upon the level of your exposure. At low concentrations, some of the effects could be fatigue, or even chest pain (particularly in people with heart disease).
At moderate concentrations carbon monoxide may result in tightness in the chest, impaired vision, and possibly reduced brain function. Finally, at higher concentrations, the effects could be more pronounced. Those effects at high concentrations could include:
- Flu-like symptoms that seem to go away upon leaving the home
In extreme cases of very high concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal.
The reason why carbon monoxide has that impact is because the gas forms carboxyhemoglobin in the blood, which inhibits oxygen intake.
What is the Average Level of Carbon Monoxide in Homes?
The level of carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (ppm). In homes that do not have gas stoves, the carbon monoxide will vary between .5 to 5 ppm. In a home that has a properly adjusted gas stove, the carbon monoxide level could be 5 to 15 ppm. Finally, in homes that have poorly adjusted or poorly vented gas stoves, the concentration of carbon monoxide could be 30 ppm or higher.
The World Health Organization recommends that the amount of carbon monoxide be at an average of 9 ppm for any eight-hour period, and an average of 25 ppm for any one-hour period.
What Can You Do to Reduce Exposure to Carbon Monoxide?
The most important thing to do to reduce carbon monoxide exposure is to keep your combustion equipment properly maintained and adjusted. That is why it is a good idea to consider having a 24-hour air conditioning repair service on hand in order to make sure that your equipment is in safe working order. Aztil Air Conditioning offers an annual checkup of your air conditioning systems, so you can monitor your indoor air quality.
The things you can do right now to reduce your carbon monoxide exposure are as follows:
- Properly adjust your gas appliances
- Choose a vented space heater to replace your unvented one
- Make sure you have an exhaust fan to vent your gas stove
- Open the flues to your fireplace when in use
- For any wood stoves, be sure they are certified to meet EPA’s emission standards, and that all doors on the stoves fit tightly
- Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune up your central air systems.
Additionally, try to find ways to minimize the exhaust from cars that is close to your home. For example, if you have an indoor garage, be sure to shut the car off before closing the garage door, and do not idle your car inside a closed garage.
What is the Best Defense Against Carbon Monoxide?
As might already suspect, you want to make sure that you have a carbon monoxide alarm installed in your home. That is, hands down, the best defense against carbon monoxide.
To install a carbon monoxide alarm, follow these steps:
- Find a location away from children and pets, and near a heating source like a gas furnace.
- Measure the distance between the alarm’s mounting holes, and mark that distance on the wall.
- Drill small holes on the marked spots and attach the mounting bracket of the alarm to the wall with screws.
- Mount the rest of the detector.
You should routinely test your alarms, and change the batteries twice a year. Maybe use daylight savings time as a way to remind you when to change batteries – when you fall back and spring ahead.
At Aztil Air Conditioning at 888-729-8452, we are the 24 hours air conditioning service provider you need to make sure that the air quality inside your home is clean and safe. We are available to answer any questions you have. You can learn more about our 24 hour air conditioning service today by calling or filling out our online contact form.