Carbon Monoxide can be deadly, you can't see it or smell it. What the home, cottage, or commercial buyer needs to know.


Carbon Monoxide Safety in Your Home

Carbon Monoxide can be deadly, you can't see it or smell it. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. Appliances that are not working properly or are used incorrectly, can result in dangerous levels of CO being produced.

As a home , cottage, and commercical property inspector in Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Muskoka I will look carefully throughout the home for sources of carbon monoxide such as those shown Furnaces, fireplaces, wall heaters, water heaters any fulel burning appliance. As a home cottage and commercial inspector in Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and Muskoka I look for sources of Carbonmonoxide in the home to warn clients to beware and take proper precautions agains carbon monoxide poisioning.

What Carbon Monoxide can do to you at low levels.

Even in low concentrations  Carbon Monoxide can cause fatigue in healthy people. People with heart disease can suffer severe chest pain and breathing distress. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea and headaches, and, suffered long term may have severe effects on your health.. People also experience headaches, dizziness, confusion and nausea as well. Carbon Monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home and then return the next day after being in the home for a while.

Higher levels don't just make you sick

 At even moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. You can die if these levels persist for a long time. In higher concentration levels, people may suffer impaired vision and experience a lack of coordination and in very high concentrations Carbon Monoxide is fatal to people and pets and at high levels it only takes minutes. Keep in mind hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning.

Entire family gone.

Sad story of a family killed by Carbon Monoxide poising. This is why during my home, cottage and commercial inspections in Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and Muskoka I look for sources of Carbon monoxide. Then I warn my clients about the danger. in the i

This is a case  of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, just one of many. Reprinted from CBC news

Last Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009 | 3:38 PM ET

There was no way Const. Laurie Hawkins should have been alive. ( Const. Laurie Hawkins died shortly after from Carbon Monoxide poisoning)

When her police colleagues kicked down the front door of her Woodstock, Ont., bungalow last December, they got a tragic snapshot of a family killed three days earlier from carbon-monoxide poisoning.

The petite, 41-year-old Ontario Provincial Police officer lay in her underclothes halfway through the doorway of her son Jordan's room.

Hawkins had apparently gone to check on Chippewa Avenue's eager 12-year-old paper-boy, whom she had picked up from the YMCA a few hours earlier.

In the next room, 14-year-old Cassandra was on the floor beside her bed. The gregarious Grade 9 student had had her braces removed a few days earlier, and had been at her friend's house that evening baking cookies and sending messages on MSN.

Quintessential hockey dad Richard Hawkins was on the floor of the bathroom in his pyjamas. He had turned on the fireplace in the basement to warm things up a bit while he watched the tube and ate popcorn.

What Richard Hawkins didn't know was that the small exhaust vent that funnelled carbon monoxide from the gas fireplace out through the chimney was completely blocked from years of use.

A grim picture

And the caption to this grim picture: they did not own a carbon monoxide detector and did not get their chimney checked.



Carbon Monoxide in your home, cottage or commercial property

Note that direct vent gas appliances like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and wall heaters, should if installed and maintained correctly, have no effect on gas levels in the home. Studies show that the average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Homes with gas stoves that are properly adjusted gas stoves range from 5 to 15 ppm. Close to poorly adjusted stoves gas ( where the cook stands ) levels may be 30 ppm or higher. Poorly maintained furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces that are not adjusted correctly, gas water heaters that are not serviced regularly, wood stoves, leaking chimneys, fireplaces and unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, can all be sources for Co contamination.. Carbon Monoxide from automobile exhaust from attached garages is a killer, many people  die each year from CO produced by idling cars.

As a home, cottage, or commercial buyer the first step is to prevent Carbon Monoxide intrusion.

First, even before you move in  have any fuel-burning appliances inspected by a trained professional at the beginning whether they are oil,  propane, natural gas, kerosene, or wood fired.  On a wood fired appliance be it stove or fireplace do not settle for just a basic WETT inspection make sure the chimney for any wood stove is cleaned and inspected as well. Even a 1 year old wood stove could have a chimney fire that leaves dangerous damage inside with no evidence outside.  Make certain that the flues of all appliances and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked. Pay careful attention to range hoods which I inspect carefully during my home cottage or commercial inspections in Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Muskoka. Hoods for gas and propane ranges must vent to the outside a recirculation hood is ok with electric ranges but very dangerous with gas powered appliances.

When considering new appliances wherever possible choose appliances that vent their fumes directly to the outside, have them properly installed, then, maintain them according to manufacturers' instructions.

A few more precautions a home cottage or commercial owner can take

Never idle the car in a garage, if it must warm up pull it outside first .Even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.

Ensuring the home is sealed to gas entry from the grage is just one of many hundreds of items I check when doing a home, cottage or commercila inspection in Orillia Gravenhurst Bracebridge or Muskoka

Read and follow all of the instructions that accompany every fuel-burning device, if the seller did not leave them behind ( your home inspector should have recommended you obtain all manuals when you got your home cottage or commercial inspection done ) you can often find them online now.


Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

Never ever use a charcoal grill indoors -- even in a fireplace, like an open fireplace with no chimney the co levels can be extremely high in only moments..

Never sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater including a tent or camper.

Never use gasoline-or diesel powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.

If you think you might be a CO poisoning victim

If you are using any fuel-burning appliances in the home and you experience unexplained symptoms that you think could be from CO poisoning ask yourself if your symptoms occur only in the house and do they disappear or decrease when you leave home but come back when you return? Are others in your house complaining of similar symptoms like fatigue in healthy people or chest pain in people with heart disease, impaired vision or coordination, headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea or flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home. Then ask yourself if everyone's symptoms appeared about the same time? Do not ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them, if you do nothing it might not be long before you could lose consciousness and die.

These are the signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisioning , headaches, collapse, dizzyiness or unconsciouness, breathlessness or nasea .I provide this information to my home cottage and commercial inspection clients in Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Muskoka.

First Get fresh air right away. Get everyone out of the home, cottage or commercial structure.  Open doors and windows, turn off combustion appliances and leave the property. Go to an emergency room and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning. A simple blood test may diagnose the issue if done soon after exposure.  finally, have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly and that there is nothing blocking the fumes from being vented out of the house before using any of the appliances again..

Important information on CO Detectors for  home, cottage, and commercial buyers.

 Carbon Monoxide Detectors are widely available you should consider buying one as a back-up Remember though it is not a replacement for proper use and maintenance of  fuel-burning appliances. You should know that the technology of CO detectors is still developing. There are several types on the market and that they are not generally considered to be as reliable in comparison to say, the smoke detectors found in homes today. Some CO detectors have been laboratory-tested with varied results. While some co detectors tested  performed well, others failed to alarm even at very high CO levels. Some co detectors set off the alarm even at very low levels that don't pose any immediate health risk. Unlike when a smoke detector goes off and you can easily confirm the cause of the alarm, CO is invisible and odorless You may simply not be able to tell if an alarm is false or a real emergency. Shutting down heating appliances in the dead of winter is no joke. Don't let buying a CO detector give you a false sense of security. Preventing CO from becoming a problem in your home is better than relying on an alarm.

Prevention is the key to safety.  

In short Prevention is the key to avoiding Carbon Monoxide poisoning for the home, cottage, and commercial buyer. My home inspection clients in Orillia, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and throughout Muskoka know this because it is included in my inspection report to them. I tell them that knowing the symptoms of CO poisoning and what to do when you discover them may help save a life but preventative measures like proper maintenance and CO detectors should keep you clear of CO poisoning in the first place.