A septic system is something that is easily forgotten until something goes horribly wrong. What should you avoid running down your kitchen sink? Is one type of toilet paper safer to use than another? How often does your septic tank really need to be cleaned? These were just some of the questions that I had about my septic tank after it had backed up and filled my yard with raw sewage. Since then, I have spent hours researching septic systems so that I would not have to go through that again. I have developed my website to make learning about septic systems a little easier for others like me.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can cause headaches, nausea, confusion, fatigue and even death. This gas is released whenever fuel, such as oil, wood, or natural gas, is burned. Between 1999 and 2010, a total of 5,149 people in the United States died due the carbon monoxide poisoning. That's an average of 430 deaths per year. Thankfully, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Protect yourself and your family by avoiding these common mistakes that increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mistake #1: Attempting your own furnace repairs.
Unless you have been trained to repair furnaces, repairs are best left to the professionals. It only takes a little mistake with hooking up the ventilation system or forgetting to close a certain valve, and you could be letting dangerous carbon monoxide into your home. If your furnace is acting up, call a repair person promptly rather than waiting it out. Issues won't fix themselves -- and in the meantime, CO may be leaking into your home.
This also applies to any venting pipes or tubes connected to your furnace. If they crack or you think they might be leaking, have them repaired or replaced by a professional. A homemade duct tape or similar patch may not be as secure as you think.
Mistake #2: Not having working carbon monoxide detectors (or putting them in the wrong place.)
A carbon monoxide detector could save your life by alerting you to the presence of carbon monoxide in your home. But, it has to be working -- and it has to be in the right place. If you are installing only one CO detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission advises that you place it near your sleeping area. This way, if it goes off while you're sleeping, you'll hear it. It's not a bad idea to place one in each bedroom, just to be safe.
Make sure you push the "test" button on your CO detector about once a month just to verify that it's working. Pay attention to the date on the back. Most CO detectors have a date after which the manufacturer recommends you replace them.
Mistake #3: Using a grill indoors.
When you burn charcoal or propane indoors, CO is released. Make sure you only use your grill outside -- and place it far from any windows to ensure the fumes don't end up seeping into your home. If you really want to grill indoors, use an electric, tabletop grill or a grill pan that sits on the stove. These are safe since they don't burn fuel.
Mistake #4: Not having your chimney checked and cleaned annually.
If you have a chimney, whether it's for a fireplace, wood stove, or other fuel-burning appliance, you should have it inspected at least once per year by a qualified professional. If the chimney becomes blocked or develops a leak, it could allow CO fumes into the home. If you have a fireplace that has not been used in a while, be sure to have it cleaned before you light your first fire. Using a "chimney sweeping log" is not enough -- this may not completely clean out the chimney and unlike a human, it cannot look for other issues as it cleans.
Mistake #5: Using your generator indoors or too close to the home.
Gas and propane generators can be a real lifesaver when the power goes out -- but they might claim your life if you put them in the wrong location. A generator should never be put in a garage or spare room, as it will release fumes into the home. Place it outdoors, and make sure it is far away from any windows or vents so the CO and other fumes don't enter your home.
By following the tips above, you can keep your family safe from carbon monoxide, the silent killer. If you ever develop symptoms of CO poisoning, get out of your home and find somewhere else to stay until an HVAC professional from a company like Hayes Heating & Cooling can inspect your furnace and other appliances and ensure everything is safe.