CO & Safety Myths

Learn the Truth About Carbon Monoxide

The common myths surrounding carbon monoxide and safety are dangerous to believe. As a homeowner, it is important to educate yourself on the truth behind CO to keep your family safe before a carbon monoxide leak occurs. As a contractor, it is your responsibility to dispel these myths during inspection.

My CO Detectors Have Not Gone Off, So There Shouldn't Be Anything Wrong

If you are a homeowner whose inspector has turned off your boiler or furnace due to carbon monoxide or gas leak, you might be wondering why your CO detector has not alerted you. Certain carbon monoxide alarms such as UL listed detectors will not alert you about low levels of CO. However, low levels of CO are still dangerous and may cause health concerns.

Just Because My Boiler or Furnace Is Cracked Does Not Mean It Is Unsafe

This is not true. Cracked heating equipment can result in carbon monoxide leaks that go undetected. Some lower levels of CO will even go undetected by your alarm. It is important to repair or replace whatever piece of equipment needs repair to keep your home safe.

The Other Contractor Did Not Find a Crack—You Must Be Lying

Not all technicians have the same level of training and inspection tools. Safety Inspection training and specifically Heat Exchanger training is very time consuming and expensive. Proper test equipment can cost over $10,000. Some shops struggle to equip all of their technicians with the training and tools necessary to do a thorough job and may only have one or two with the proper tools and training. Some do not have any available.

Heat exchanger inspections often require removing the blower on a furnace or some other disassembly. This is time consuming and some technicians choose to skip over those items to save time and cut costs.

We all want to believe the person who tells us what we want to hear, but it’s important to take carbon monoxide seriously and make sure all parties did a thorough and complete Safety Inspection.

My Heating Equipment Was Just Serviced and Everything Was Fine

Cracks can happen at any given time, even after an inspection and service. However, if proper inspection guidelines were not followed, a CO leak might have gone undetected. It is important to ensure your contractor or service technician follows proper testing procedures. If procedures have been followed and a leak is detected, action should be taken to prevent an unsafe situation.

If My Furnace Is Cracked, It Will Shut Itself Off

This is not true. A cracked furnace will continue to run and leak carbon monoxide into your home unless proper action is taken. If you suspect a cracked furnace, now is the time to call a professional for an inspection and proper CO testing.

It Is Just a Small Leak and Crack—it's not that big of a deal

Cracks and leaks only get worse over time, not better, and small leaks can still have negative effects on your health. Even low levels of carbon monoxide for long periods of time can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and nausea. It is important to repair the cracked equipment to protect your home.

But, It Has Been Leaking for a While Now

If you are experiencing symptoms such as headaches and nausea that cannot otherwise be explained, you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide at a low level for a certain period of time. And even if you are not, symptoms might be right around the corner. It is difficult to pinpoint how long a leak has been occurring. This is why annual inspections are important beyond using a carbon monoxide alarm. If you suspect a leak, it is time to call a contractor or service technician.

I Have the Window Cracked

A cracked window is not enough to combat a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Often, the carbon monoxide leak will occur faster than the air from outside can carry it away. Although a cracked window might help with the level of CO in one room, the rest of your home will not see any benefit. A leak must be fixed at the source.

I Have CO Detectors in My Home to Keep Me Safe

CO detectors are for back up only, not a primary defense. Lower levels of CO are not always detected by certain CO detectors and will go unnoticed. You can compare CO detectors to the airbags in your car: you have airbags to protect you, but you would not drive recklessly even though you have air bags. It is important to take advantage of annual inspections and repairs as needed to keep your home safe.