You Can’t Trust Your Nose: Carbon Monoxide May Be Lurking

Have you ever noticed how life sometimes has an interesting way of getting our

attention? Recently, as I was following my daily routine, preparing to get out of the

house and about my business, I hear a high-pitched beeping sound.

Thinking the smoke alarms may need replacement batteries, I began the task of

checking each alarm, only to find them silent. My search took me to the basement

where, by this time, the CO-detector (carbon monoxide) was squealing loudly. I

unplugged the detector––no squealing, no problem, right? The gadget still squealed

even after I removed the batteries. By now, I’m thinking, I may have a problem.

Opening windows along the way as I returned upstairs, I dialed the South Metro Fire

Department. They arrived promptly and instructed me to open windows and get outside.

I obeyed.

Their investigation proved there was measurable carbon monoxide in the house, with

the highest concentrations at the upper level. They kindly informed me of CO damage,

quizzed me about how I was feeling then instructed me to contact an HVAC

professional, promptly.

This next phase of the process proved to be extremely informative! We’ve all learned

the potential danger of carbon monoxide toxicity, or heard of sad tragedies, but probably

never think we’ll have an experience with it.

I learned that my 20-year old furnace system had served its life expectancy. I also

learned that changing the filter frequently isn’t always enough to optimally maintain the

system––the motor needs cleaning also. Annual service calls are well worth the cost

considering the potential danger.

The heating and AC professionals, went above and beyond in educating me on carbon

monoxide and explaining their service process every step of the way. They did

basement to roof troubleshooting. They made removal of the old and installation of the

new furnace system a simple process (well, simple for me, since I just observed).

As untimely as this life experience may have seemed, I believe it was a blessing in

disguise. Now I can breathe comfortably––literally––knowing the air is clean and safe.

If you have not had your heating system serviced or cleaned, I urge you to do so. We

are just beginning the winter season in Colorado, but if you did not make a Fall-Season

heating service, DO IT NOW.

Here are some reminders about Carbon Monoxide Toxicity and Poisoning:

• Carbon Monoxide is odorless, colorless, tasteless, non-irritating but highly toxic

• Carbon Monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of materials containing

carbon (anything that can burn creates CO)

• Carbon Monoxide weighs about the same as air and mixes easily with available air

• Exposure to unsafe levels is dangerous to humans, animals and all oxygen breathing


• Symptoms may mimic cold or flu symptoms and be discounted as potentially deadly

• Carbon Monoxide depletes the blood of its ability to carry oxygen (suffocates the body)

• Carbon Monoxide travels in the blood, causing cellular damage

There are carbon monoxide sources all around, so take a few minutes to give your

home and garage a “once-over” to check for potential leaks. Teach your children the

warning signs and symptoms.

A few suggestions for protecting your family and your home:

• Purchase a couple of Low-Level Carbon Monoxide detectors with a digital read-out.

Learn more at:

• Keep a window open slightly––always

• Do not warm your car inside a closed garage! Drive your automobile outside if to “pre-


• Have all gas sources (anything with a pilot light flame) checked annually

May you enjoy the rest of winter . . . safely!

kaci head