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Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless gas that is formed through incomplete combustion of organic matter, such as fuel. There are several carbon monoxide dangers, chiefly associated with the fact that CO interferes with oxygen intake. When an indoor fuel-burning device such as a furnace is not properly operated, maintained or vented, CO can build up to dangerous concentrations.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that as many as 15,000 people are examined in hospitals each year for CO poisoning. An estimated 500 deaths occur to unintentional CO exposure. If a person inhales low concentrations of CO over a long period of time, it can lead to other illnesses.

However, there are measures that can be taken to prevent CO exposure. You can install a CO alarm to detect potentially deadly concentrations. Also, make sure your gas furnace is properly maintained and vented. Here are some of the problems that could lead to CO exposure due to a fuel-burning appliance such as a gas furnace.

  • No upward draft in your chimney.
  • An orange or yellow flame in your combustion appliance. The flame should be blue.
  • Streaks of soot around the furnace.
  • Excess moisture on walls, windows or other cold surfaces.
  • Excessive rusting on pipe connections or appliance jacks.
  • Fallen soot in the fireplace.
  • Damaged or discolored bricks at the top of your chimney.

Another particularly troubling carbon monoxide danger is that many people confuse low levels of exposure to CO with the flu. Here are some of the signs that you may be experiencing CO exposure instead of the flu:

  • You feel better when away from home.
  • Several people in the home get sick at the same time.
  • The members of the family who are affected the most spend the most time in the home.
  • Shortly after turning on your gas furnace or other fuel-burning device such as a fireplace or oven, your symptoms either occur or worsen.
  • Your indoor pets appear to be sick.
  • You do not have the general aches and fever or swollen lymph nodes typically associated with a flu, virus or cold.

If you have any concerns regarding carbon monoxide dangers that may be present in your home, or you would like your furnace checked for potential leaks by a trained and qualified technician, please call Approved Comfort as soon as you can at (815) 219-7102.