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What You Might Not Know About Carbon Monoxide


Carbon monoxide, or CO2, is a by-product of the burning of natural gas or other materials.  This means that any appliances in your home, such as a furnace, that are powered with gas are releasing this potentially deadly substance on a regular basis.  It’s not a problem unless the CO2 leaks into your home.  According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, this odorless, colorless gas is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. 


Your furnace isn’t the only appliance you need to consider when it comes to carbon monoxide.  The exhaust from a gas-powered water heater is typically vented up through a pipe and safely released outside.  This is such a normal thing that many of us probably don’t think about it on a regular basis, but what happens if the vent pipe gets clogged?  Usually the backed-up carbon monoxide will cause the water heater to shut down, alerting you to an issue.  If there happens to be a leak in the vent pipe, however, the CO2 could be released into your home.  There are simple steps you can take to ensure you don’t find yourself in this situation.




-Carbon monoxide detectors are required by Illinois law within 15 feet of each bedroom, but making sure you have a carbon monoxide detector near every appliance that uses gas could make a big difference.  The alarm will go off before the deadly gas seeps into your living space.


-Inspect your water heater for any burnt or melted parts.  Backed up CO2 exhaust can cause parts of the water heater to burn or melt.


-Know the symptoms of CO2 poisoning.  At low levels, these may include headache and shortness of breath.  Continued exposure can lead to chest pain, dizziness, fainting and even death.




Clearly, carbon monoxide needs to be taken seriously.  If you think you may have a carbon monoxide problem, call A&W Plumbing.  Our friendly professionals can inspect your water heater and fix any potential issues you may have.