Silent Death, that's what carbon monoxide is known as. It sneaks up on you without your even being aware it's there, you can't hear it, see it, or taste it and yet, it can kill you. This poisonous gas is colorless and odorless.
Carbon monoxide is the cause of many deaths and thousands of visits to the emergency rooms of hospitals every year.
A top cause of carbon monoxide is your car. Never leave a car running in an enclosed space, such as an attached garage for an extended period of time, the gases can bill up and seep into the house or if you are sitting in the car you may fall asleep and never wake up. Just because you left the garage door open doesn't mean it's safe to leave the car running. You should also check your tail pipe to make sure it's clear of snow in the winter. A blocked tail pipe could cause carbon monoxide to back up into the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
Many home appliances can also produce carbon monoxide fumes. Malfunctioning gas stoves, stove hood vents, water heaters, space heaters and fireplaces can all cause carbon monoxide to enter your living space. Gas stoves and other types of cooking devices should never be used to heat the home.
Home furnaces often leak fumes into the home. A furnace should be checked yearly for blocked flues and loose or corroded piping. There could also be holes or gaps in the flue or even the body of the furnace itself.
Furnace fans could be installed improperly or backwards, sending carbon monoxide into the home instead of harmlessly outside. The burners and ignition device should also be checked on a regular basis. A flame in a natural gas furnace should be blue, if it is yellow the fuel is not being burned completely, this could mean carbon monoxide is being released into the home.
Clogged filters that haven't been change for long periods of time can cause problems and please make sure the fresh air return to the furnace is not being blocked by furniture, old crates or any other material you may have stored around it.
Chimneys apply to furnaces and wood burning fireplaces equally. Often birds, racoons and other animals build nest in chimneys during the summer when they're not being used. When the appliance is fired up on the first cold day, carbon monoxide can't get through to the outside and backs up into the home. Make sure your chimney is checked and cleaned on a regular basis, this also helps prevent fires from starting in the chimney.
Water heaters can cause carbon monoxide fumes if the outside vent is loose or blocked, the flame on this device should be checked also, if it's yellow you should turn it off and call a service professional to have it checked.
Clothes dryers are another source of carbon monoxide. The venting pipe leading to the outside should be checked for leaks, cracks, rust and holes.
Pilot lights on all the above devices should also be checked, the by-product of combustion from these appliances could be causing an unsafe level of carbon monoxide to be released into your living space.
When it comes to carbon monoxide, you can never be too careful. Every home should be equipped with, at least, one carbon monoxide detector. The debate of rather you need one or not is over. You need one, debate settled. Now the only question is what type do you need. There are many to choose from, my advice would be to go on line and check the ratings and then choose for yourself.