Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the most devastating and preventable home accidents.

Most of the kitchen appliances like our gas cooker, water heater and any appliance that generates heat may likely going to produce carbon monoxide.

Understanding what carbon monoxide is and how to prevent it from accumulating in your home is key to keeping your family from falling victim to such a tragedy.

This is because carbon monoxide can be another risk of brain damage and heart problems when the fume is inhaled over a long period of time.

How long it will take before getting carbon monoxide poison depends on the number of appliances, how they’re used, and the safety precautions that are followed.

However, this carbon poison may kill in a matter of hours if the environment is not left immediately and the fumes are all over the place.

Here are some things that everyone should know about carbon monoxide in the home.

Understanding and following these tips could save your life -and your family’s.

1. You will not know Carbon monoxide is there.

It’s often asked : How do you know if you’ve carbon monoxide poisoning and what are the symptoms.

Carbon monoxide has no color. It has no odor.

People often think they smell it when an alarm activates because there is an accompanying odor from a wood- or gas-burning appliance, but that is not the case.

The only way to know if you have carbon monoxide in your home is to have a detector, whether you use gas appliances or not. That brings us to our next point.


2. CO can come from many different sources.

Many people mistakenly assume that because they don’t use natural gas in their homes, they won’t have carbon monoxide.

However, any carbon-based fuel can create it. That includes wood, gasoline, and diesel fuel.

Many cases of poisoning have been traced to vehicles being warmed up in the garage, or even just on the driveway.

Fumes entered through the HVAC system or gaps in walls, poisoning the family. Generators used during power outages have done the same.


3. The Carbon monoxide detectors don’t lie.

Because people don’t smell or see anything when their carbon monoxide detector goes off, many of them ignore it or assume it’s a bad battery.

When replacing it doesn’t work, they simply remove the battery to silence the alarm.

Meanwhile, they’re slowly being poisoned. Read the manual with your detector and understand the difference in an alarm activation and a low-battery alarm. If it activates, exit the house and call 911.


4. The symptoms can fool you.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer, because it often claims its victims as they sleep.

Those who are awake when the problem starts may have symptoms like fatigue and headache, and they may simply shrug them off as onset of the flu or another illness.

Never wait for symptoms that “seem like” they could be from carbon monoxide. Have detectors, and respond when they activate.


5. New appliances can still generate carbon monoxide.

Some homeowners mistakenly assume that a new home with a new furnace, water heater, and appliances can not have a carbon monoxide problem.

That’s dead wrong. While you should have normal function from new equipment, there is always the chance that it could be defective.

There could also be air in the gas line that can interfere with proper combustion, generating carbon monoxide.

Again, react when your CO detector activates.


6. Time matters.

Carbon monoxide is a function of time. A high dose for a short time can be deadly, but a low dose for a long time will do the same.

Many minor malfunctions will trigger the alarm, but occupants may ignore it due to their lack of symptoms.

It may be hours later–while they sleep–that the accumulated carbon monoxide proves deadly. Again, get help as soon as the alarm activates.

Carbon monoxide can be more deadly than fire because it can spread quickly to every room.

Get detectors, maintain them, and pay attention when they activate.



Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.