Placement of Carbon Monoxide CO Detectors Important

September 5th, 2012 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Furnaces, Water Heaters | No Comments »

Re-posting one of our most popular topics - where to place your carbon monoxide detector:

Homeowners should remember not to install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up. A detector should not be placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or in or near very humid areas such as bathrooms.

Read the rest for more advice on installing your carbon monoxide detector.


Carbon Monoxide - A Clear, Odorless Gas That Goes Virtually Undetected

October 5th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Consumer Protection, Family Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Furnaces, Installed Systems, Water Heaters | No Comments »

Author: Maria Richmond for HomeSafe.com

It has no smell, nor can you see carbon monoxide, yet it is very dangerous and kills several hundred people each year.

Carbon monoxide is produced by fuel burning appliances such as, gas space heaters, gas furnaces, wood burning stoves, fireplaces, gas dryers, gas ranges, ovens, even your car. If your appliance is working properly, it will not produce enough carbon monoxide to be harmful. If it is not functioning properly, carbon monoxide can leak from the appliance in amounts that can be harmful, even fatal if enough is inhaled.

Carbon monoxide is absorbed through the bloodstream. Carbon monoxide in the bloodstream makes it impossible for oxygen to be absorbed by your vital organs. When your organs are unable to have access to, nor able to utilize oxygen, they starve and become unable to function.

Children and pregnant women (the fetus) are at even greater risks of CO poisoning. Children naturally have a higher metabolic rate. This means that they require higher amounts of oxygen for their vital organs, like their hearts and brain. When CO interferes with the delivery of oxygen to these vital organs, children can suffer severe complications from CO poisoning, such as brain damage and death.

Read the rest of the article…


Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Proper Placement of Carbon Monoxide CO Detectors Important

September 30th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Consumer Protection, Family Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Furnaces, Installed Systems, Poisoning, Water Heaters | No Comments »

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ — Proper placement of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector is important, reminds the makers of home-safety and security website HomeSafe.com (http://www.homesafe.com/coalert).

Each fall the sad news of another family that has one or more of its family members perish in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning repeats itself.

The real tragedy is that these deaths can be prevented if the family had the chimney checked and/or installed carbon monoxide detectors near the sleeping and living areas within the house.

If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep. Additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home provide extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Homeowners should remember not to install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up. A detector should not be placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or in or near very humid areas such as bathrooms.

When considering where to place a carbon monoxide detector, keep in mind that although carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air (carbon monoxide’s specific gravity is 0.9657, as stated by the EPA; the National Resource Council lists the specific gravity of air as one), it may be contained in warm air coming from combustion appliances such as home heating equipment. If this is the case, carbon monoxide will rise with the warmer air.

Installation locations vary by manufacturer. Manufacturers’ recommendations differ to a certain degree based on research conducted with each one’s specific detector. Therefore, make sure to read the provided installation manual for each detector before installing.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning prevention and to find top-rated CO detectors for your home, visit the CO ALERT at http://www.homesafe.com/coalert.


Summer Time Chore - Check Your Furnace Chimney

July 19th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Energy Efficiency, Poisoning | No Comments »

With record-breaking heat waves baking much of the country, it seems like an odd time to be thinking about your furnace or it’s chimney, but this is the season to get your furnace chimney checked by a qualified chimney sweep or furnace maintenance company. Failing to do so could cause carbon monoxide poisoning problems in a few short months when the weather turns chilly again.

Why is that?

In the spring many creatures large and small make their homes in fireplace and furnace flues, to nest or have their young in the relative comfort of the cool, quiet, and dark “cave” that is open on the roofs of many homes across the country. These creatures like birds, squirrels, raccoons and bats can bring a mess of nesting materials with them, or create a mess of droppings left behind, potentially clogging the chimney either at the top (with a bird nest) or at the bottom (near the thimble where your furnace connects).

What happens during the summer is that the young have grown, left the chimney, and left behind a potentially deadly situation for the people living in the home.

That nesting material, along with any other mess left behind, can reduce the ability of your chimney to exhaust the deadly carbon monoxide fumes generated from your furnace or non-electric water-heater. (Hint: If your furnace or water-heater uses fuel like natural gas, propane, or oil - then it creates carbon monoxide.)

If the chimney flue is partially blocked, then the odorless but dangerous carbon monoxide can escape into the home. In the worst-cases, the mess left behind may actually block the chimney completely, causing all of the carbon monoxide to dump into the home, possibly building to concentrations high enough to cause death.

Read the Rest…


Fire safety for your family

February 26th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Consumer Protection, Family Safety, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | No Comments »

Source: Children’s Hospital Boston - by LOIS LEE, MD, MPH

The city of Boston recently celebrated the fact that no citizens within the city died as a result of a house fire in 2009—the first year with no deaths since 1972, when the Fire Department started keeping records about fire-related deaths. It seems to me in 2010 that deaths from house fires should be a phenomenon of an earlier century, but sadly this is not true.

With some of the older type of housing and the various types of heating devices families use to survive the long New England winters, this is an important fact to celebrate. The use of space heaters, the presence of old electrical wiring and living with persons who smoke in the home all increase the risk of a house fire.

Read the Rest


Tips for Smoke Detectors

January 27th, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Family Safety, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Workplace Safety | 1 Comment »

Every 83 seconds a residential fire breaks out in the United States. Each year, residential fires injure over 39,000 American children under the age of 14. In two-thirds of these homes, the smoke detector either doesn’t work or doesn’t exist.

Statistics show that installing a smoke detector saves lives. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), “Homes with a smoke detector typically have a death rate that is 40 to 50 percent less than the rate for homes without a smoke detector.”

The NFPA sets the rules and regulations pertaining to residential smoke detectors, but most people aren’t aware of these policies. The NFPA also provides the public with information on smoke detector maintenance and when you should replace them.

Read the Full Article


Home Safety Appliances: Carbon Monoxide Detectors

January 2nd, 2010 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Family Safety, Furnaces | No Comments »

Inside this article, you will learn how serious that danger of Carbon Monoxide can be at home and at work. It is recognized as a serious health hazard, responsible for more deaths than any other form of poisoning around the world Carbon Monoxide (CO) especially dangerous because it is a combination of Carbon and Oxygen that cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. On average, in the United States death from CO poisoning averages nearly 170 annually.

The final outcome of inhaling CO is oxygen-starvation of the body’s internal organs. As CO is taken into the lungs, it unites to the hemoglobin far more rapidly than oxygen can. This results in the failure of internal organs, as they become starved for enough oxygen to work properly. Early warning signs of poisoning include headaches, fatigue and nausea, all of which can easily be mistaken for influenza.

Read the rest…


Winter Storm: Weather outside frightful, make inside home delightful

December 10th, 2009 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Family Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | No Comments »

Source: Orlando Examiner

With the current winter storm sweeping the nation already responsible for at least a dozen deaths, it’s not surprising people are seeking refuge in their warm homes.

But when the weather turns cold outside, things can heat up inside — sometimes a little too much, if you don’t take precautions.

Dumping nearly 20 inches of the white stuff on Madison WI, and 15 more in Green Bay, the year’s first major pre-winter snow storm swept a large portion of the U.S. this week, leaving Wisconsin in a state of emergency.

As the winter storm moved off the East Coast, it left in its wake the return of “lake effect” snow bands, lingering blustery conditions and frigid temperatures.

On Wednesday, a follow-up storm was approaching from the West, where temperatures have been lower than normal — including a record 16-degree reading in Redding, CA.

Winter storm conditions blanketing much of the nation comes with a triple-threat to household health and safety — issues related to carbon monoxide poisoning, home heating and power outages, according to the Home Safety Council.

However, while you can’t change Mother nature, you can change behavior to keep the home safe when winter blasts howl around your home.

Read the rest


How to avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning

February 5th, 2009 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Furnaces, Poisoning | 1 Comment »

Some timely safety advice from Consumer Reports:

Last week’s hospitalization of more than a dozen children in Dallas and the recent deaths of seven Kentucky residents illustrate the real dangers of carbon monoxide.

Keep your family safe with the safety measures below as well as this advice.

Read the rest and see the safety video.


Burning Firewood More Efficiently

January 19th, 2009 | Filed under: Chimneys, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | 3 Comments »

Since 1988 new woodstoves have had to meet federal regulations regarding efficiency and pollution production - resulting in “EPA Approved” stoves that use a variety of methods to lower emissions and increase efficiency. These stoves use advanced design, catalytic combustors, and re-burners to “burn-off” the smoke produced by the initial combustion of wood.

Smoke is wasted fuel from a wood fire - in fact a cleanly burning EPA Approved woodstove operating correctly will give off little more than a transparent vapor cloud - with no real amount of smoke escaping the stove. That’s because the smoke itself is burned within the stove - resulting in better efficiency and greater heat output from the same amount of wood.

The BEST method to increase your woodburning efficiency is to get rid of your old, smokey insert or freestanding woodstove, and properly install one of these newer stoves.

Besides a re-vamp on your appliance, there are a few other things you can do to produce hotter fires, which produce less creosote and smoke, and burn more cleanly with greater heat output.

The single most important factor is the dryness of your firewood. Seasoned firewood contains much less water than “green” firewood - so the fire doesn’t waste it’s energy steaming off the water content, and more heat is available for complete combustion of the smoke. (See FeN #003 about firewood seasoning tips.) Seasoned firewood is easier to start, and will help keep the stove temperatures hot - to lessen the amount of smoke released up the connector pipe.

Another important part of efficient woodburning is to allow plenty of combustion air to enter the stove. Become familiar with the air inlets on your stove - this is usually the best area of the stove to ignite the kindling when first starting your fire. Once the fire is started, give it plenty of air for 15 to 30 minutes - allowing the stove and wood to heat-up and a bed of coals to start forming.

For hot “flash-fires” - intended to give off lower heat levels over several hours - load your stove in a small stack, loose criss-cross fashion, leaving plenty of space for air to flow into and around the stack. You want to get the fire hot and bright. Cut back on the air inlets as the fire progresses - but never enough to smolder the flames. When you have a hot bed of glowing coals, cut the air back enough to keep them hot and radiating heat. Repeat this process as needed to keep the house at the temperature you feel is comfortable.

For extended heating, and when you want to maximize heat output - start your fire like you would the flash fire - and when you get down to a hot bed of coals, load plenty of wood on the sides and on top of the bed of coals, concentrating the heat in a “pocket” of fresh firewood. This will sustain the fire and maximize heat output. Add wood around and over the “pocket” as needed to keep the heat concentrated.

To get a longer-lasting fires - burn your wood from the top-down. This is an ancient method of woodburning in Europe and is “catching on” here in the States. Basically you build your fire up-side down, with the split log base, working progressively smaller sections of firewood in a criss-cross manner to the top where you put you kindling. The only problem is that it’s less common to find the finely split wood needed for the center section of the stack - in America we just cut and split into large sections. Some experienced woodburners are finding the top-down method of burning is much more efficient, with long-lasting burns - a 18 inch stack can burn hot up to 4 hours without needing to be refueled.

Following these simple tips can help increase the efficiency of your woodstove or fireplace, decrease emissions, and warm you longer.


Maintaining Clearance All Winter Long

January 19th, 2009 | Filed under: Chimneys, Fire Safety, Fireplaces & Woodstoves | No Comments »

If you heat with wood, hopefully you have already had the system  cleaned and have been using it for a while. It’s easy to get comfortable with the fireplace or woodstove - it almost becomes a friend on those cold winter mornings when it’s cold enough to make you wonder why you want to get out of bed.

It’s possible to become too comfortable - and it only takes one mistake to create a hazardous situation.

One of the most common is the lack of safe clearances around your fireplace or woodstove. Over the weeks, wooden chairs and furniture may work there way closer to the heat source - during use or cleaning.

It’s also possible that newspaper and even fire wood might get stacked too close to the stove or fireplace - or decorative wooden brooms or wreaths are hung around the hearth.

What about that Christmas tree drying out over there - is it too close to the hearth? It will literally explode into flames if it’s too close! Keep it away from the hearth if your going to use the wood burner.

It’s also important not to get all of that wrapping paper in or near the fireplace - it’s a disaster waiting to happen - and you shouldn’t burn the printed paper on purpose - it may give off toxins in the smoke.

The NFPA 211* recommends at least 36 inches of clearance from the front and sides of fireplaces and woodstoves to combustible materials.

Make sure that normal clearance to combustibles is maintained with the installation as well as to objects in the room. I would recommend that the tree be located even farther away - so that if it was knocked over or fell directly toward the heat source it would still be well over 36 inches away.

If you have a furnace in a storage area or utility room - it’s equally important to keep all combustibles well clear of the furnace and it’s vent pipe.

By maintaining clearances, and with regular servicing, you should enjoy many warm winter days near the hearth.

* SOURCE : National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), An American National Standard, ANSI/NFPA 211 August 14, 1992 ; Table 8-6(a) Standard Clearances for Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances


Chimney Sweeping and Folklore

January 19th, 2009 | Filed under: Chimneys, Fire Safety | No Comments »

Chimney sweeping is not a very well known nor well understood profession. Americans are generally unaware sweeps really exist. Most Americans who know of sweeps associate chimney sweeping with19th Century England and the most famous of all the sweeps - “Bert”, Mary Poppins’ friend who danced and sang on the rooftops of London.

But chimney sweeping in America is an important industry. There are literally millions of aging and delapidated chimneys across our country, and nobody knows those chimneys better then the people who service and repair them every day.

Lets start at the beginning - with the first sweeps…

17th Century London had a problem with houses catching fire and entire sections of town going up in flames. London’s residents burned wood year round to cook and heat, and had several chimneys on every home.

No one had their chimneys cleaned - no one knew they should.

Soon they discovered the association between dirty chimneys and the proliferation of house fires, and so began the role of the chimney sweep.

In London they used small boys and girls to climb the insides of the chimneys and use their bodies and brushes to knock down the soot and creosote which fueled the chimney fires. They free-climbed up inside of the dangerous chimneys without the help of ladders or ropes, and spent much of their days in the cold darkness breathing the dust and fumes from the soot and creosote.

These climbing boys and girls were very poor, often wearing rags and eating scraps. They answered to a man called a Sweep Master, who work them hard and gave no rewards.

The Irish, on the other hand, had their own ideas of how a chimney should be cleaned. They would tie a goose by the legs and lower it down the chimney. As the bird flapped furiously with its large wings it would knock loose the soot and creosote from the chimney.This practice helped save children from the task, and popularized the saying “The blacker the bird the cleaner the flue!”.

In early America the same problem of chimney fires existed and the early construction materials of mud and wood chimneys allowed the fires to spread even more quickly.

Sweeps were very hard to come by in Colonial America. Chimney sweeps had very low social standing in Europe and the settlers wanted a new start and do better for themselves so no one swept America’s chimneys.

Eventually towns had to offer special contracts and monopolies for sweeps, or use slave children to do the necessary work.

In the early 20th Century, with the advent of oil and gas heating and cooking, the chimney sweeping profession fell by the waist side in America. People no longer used their fireplaces for cooking and heating, instead relying on imported fuels.

That all changed during the energy crisis of the 1970’s. Americans looked to alternatives for heating their homes to help sever their reliance on foreign fuels. They turned back to our own naturally restorable resource of wood for fireplaces, woodstoves, and woodheaters.

With the resurgence of wood burning came the resurgence of chimney sweeping - except chimney sweeping had gone through many changes and has become a safe and profitable profession.

With the use of modern vacuums, equipment, safety devices and products, todays sweeps no longer expose themselves to the dangerous creosote. Powerful vacuums keep the home completely soot and dust free!

And as chimney sweeps cleaned America’s chimneys, they began to see what poor shape many chimneys were in. This led to very modern repair and restoration techniques, space-age materials for relining older and unsafe chimneys, and the advent of a yearly service program to maintain and keep safe the chimneys of those customers who realize the importance of sweeping.

Todays gas burning appliances have specific venting requirements whichare rarely met upon installation and the chimney sweep industry hasonce again taken up the slack and developed high-tech relining materials to properly match todays high efficiency furnace with their outdated chimneys.

Chimney sweeps remain a relied upon member of the community in Americaand Europe. Unlike in America, yearly chimney cleaning and inspectionsare often required by European law. In America it is “buyer-beware”,and the responsibility is left to the homeowner.


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Danger Increases as Record Low Temps Decend Over America

January 16th, 2009 | Filed under: Carbon Monoxide, Chimneys, Fireplaces & Woodstoves, Furnaces, Installed Systems, Poisoning | Tags: , , | No Comments »

America’s suffering a deep freeze this weekend - and the risk of carbon monoxide related poisoning climbs as people try to stay warm. Much of America is unprepared for such low temperatures, with rarely-used and poorly maintained heating systems, chimneys clogged with debris or birds nests, or dead batteries in their carbon monoxide detectors. Others will try dangerous methods to stay warm, methods like using auxiliary heaters indoors.

According to JAMA, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in America. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and cannot be detected by people without the use of carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common household appliances such as gas or oil furnaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, ovens and ranges. A charcoal grill operating in an enclosed area, a fire burning in a fireplace or a car running in an attached garage also produce carbon monoxide.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Poison?

CO combines with hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying agent in the red blood cells. When oxygen is robbed from the brain and other organs, death can result. In addition, up to 40 percent of survivors of severe CO poisoning develop memory impairment and other serious illnesses.

Many cases of reported carbon monoxide poisoning indicate that victims are aware they are not well but become so disoriented that they are unable to save themselves.

But what do you do and who to you call when your carbon monoxide detector goes into alarm? The manufacturer of First Alert®, the leading brand of carbon monoxide detectors, recommends the following:

If the alarm goes off, turn off appliances, or other sources of combustion at once. Immediately get fresh air into the premises by opening doors and windows. Call a qualified technician and have the problem fixed before restarting appliances. If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, vomiting, call the fire department and immediately move to a location that has fresh air. Do a head count to be sure all persons are accounted for. Do not re-enter the premises until it has been aired out and the problem corrected.

This weekend stay safe, err on the side of caution. Carbon Monoxide Detectors are available at most hardware stores and retailers like WalMart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, etc. They generally cost between $20 to $40 each - the more expensive ones have a digital readout to give you a real-time and highest-recorded PPM reading.