What to look for in a inspector?           What could be wrong with my home?       How much does a home inspection cost?

We are America’s Inspectors

ambulance_header1
    Home       About Us       Our Difference       Schedule Now       Top 8       Current News       Movies       Careers       Contact Us 

Current News

 

CO GASES form gas appliances

Every year, nearly 500 people in the United States die from this Toxic gas

We use state of the art equipment to test and analyze all gas appliances at the property.

gas_detector

About Carbon  Monoxide

The Senseless  Killer

U.S. Consumer Product  Safety Commission
Washington, DC 20207
Govt. Printing Office: 1993  0-356-764

“Every year, nearly 300  people in the Unites States die from this toxic gas. Can you tell - can you  smell - what gas it is?”

What is Carbon  Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is produced by burning any fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home  is a potential CO source.

When appliances are  kept in good working condition, they produce little CO. Improperly operating  appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in your home. Likewise, using  charcoal indoors or running a car in a garage can cause CO  poisoning.

The initial symptoms of  CO are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They  include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Irregular breathing

Remember, if you have  any of these symptoms and if you feel better when you go outside your home and  the symptoms reappear once you're back inside, you may have CO  poisoning.

Clues You Can  See...

  • Rusting or water streaking on vent/chimney
  • Loose or missing furnace panel
  • Sooting
  • Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections
  • Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace, or  appliance
  • Loose masonry on chimney
  • Moisture inside of windows

 

SOURCES OF AND CLUES TO A POSSIBLE CARBON MONOXIDE PROBLEM

  1. Room heaters
  2. Furnace 
  3. Charcoal Grill
  4. Gas Range/Ovens
  5. Water Heaters
  6. Auto in closed garage
  7. Fireplace

House Diagram

Clues You Cannot  See...

  • Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components
  • Improper burner adjustment
  • Hidden blockage or damage in chimney

What Can You  Do?

  • Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's  instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by  professionals.
  • Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents)  inspected and serviced annually.
  • Follow manufacturer's directions for safe operation.
  • Examine vents and chimney regularly for improper connections,  visible rust or stains.
  • Notice problems that could indicate improper appliance  operation:
    - Decreasing hot water supply
    - Furnace unable to heat house or  runs constantly
    - Sooting, especially on appliances
    - Unfamiliar or  burning odor

Install a CO Alarm for  Added Safety

Must meet the requirements of UL  2034-98

What You Should Not  Do...

  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in a garage.
  • Never service appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and  tools.
  • Never use the gas range or oven for heating.
  • Never leave a car running in a garage.
  • Never operate unvented gas-burning appliances in a closed  room

NOTE:
The U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency suggests that if you suspect that you are  experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Open windows  and doors for more ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave  the house. You could lose consciousness and die from carbon monoxide poisoning  if you do nothing. It is also important to contact a doctor IMMEDIATELY for a  proper diagnosis. Remember to tell your doctor that you suspect carbon monoxide  poisoning is causing your problems. Prompt medical attention is  important.

Proper attention and maintenance of combustion appliances in  the home is most important in reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. A  carbon monoxide alarm can provide added protection, but is no substitute for  proper use and upkeep of potential carbon monoxide sources. No detector is 100%  reliable, and some individuals may experience health problems at levels of  carbon monoxide below the detection sensitivity of these  devices.

About Combustion

Preventing Problems with Combustion Equipment

Combustion appliances are those which burn fuels for  warmth, cooking, or decorative purposes. Typical fuels are gas, both natural and  liquefied petroleum (LP); kerosene; oil; coal; and wood. Examples include space  heaters, ranges, furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, and clothes dryers. These  appliances are usually safe. However, under certain conditions (see below),  these appliances can release harmful or deadly combustion pollutants into the  home (commonly called combustion spillage or backdrafting. In addition, unvented or improperly  vented appliances can add large amounts of moisture to the air, potentially  resulting in both biological growth, and damage to the house. Proper selection,  installation, inspection, and maintenance of combustion appliances are extremely  important. Providing good ventilation can also can reduce exposure to combustion  pollutants.

Things to consider when remodeling your home are  listed below:

Read equipment's home owner manual and  instructions. Make sure equipment receives regular professional inspection and  maintenance.

It is important that you understand how to properly  operate combustion equipment in your homes, and that you follow the  manufacturer's recommendations for maintaining the equipment. Have your  combustion appliances and your chimney regularly inspected and maintained to  reduce your exposure to pollutants. Appliances that are not working properly can  release harmful and even fatal amounts of pollutants, especially carbon  monoxide, into the living space.

Avoid un-Vented Space Heaters

Take special precautions when operating  unvented fuel-burning space heaters.

Consider the potential indoor air pollution effects  if you use an unvented kerosene or gas space heater. Follow the manufacturer's  directions, especially instructions on the proper fuel and keeping the heater  properly adjusted. A persistent yellow-tipped flame is generally an indicator of  improper adjustment and increased pollutant emissions. While a space heater is  in use, open a door from the room where the heater is located to the rest of the  house and open a window slightly when installing unvented (or "vent-free")  space or water heating appliances is in use.

Unvented appliances leave all combustion products in  the house. Even if incomplete combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO)  are kept to a minimum, these appliances can generate large amounts of moisture which can create its own problems. Unvented  heaters require special precautions.

When replacing heating equipment, consider  using only sealed-combustion, induced draft, or power-vented furnaces, boilers,  and water heaters.

Traditionally, combustion equipment relied on natural  draft, the tendency for the warm combustion air to rise up a chimney. Today's  more efficient equipment does not waste as much energy or send as much heat up  the chimney, weakening natural draft. Natural draft can at times be overcome by  conditions that depressurize the house, leading to spillage, backdrafting, and  the problems associated with combustion products in the house.

Most  new equipment usually features sealed  combustion or power-venting. The risk of backdrafting is lower with these types  of equipment than for those relying on natural draft.

Sealed combustion equipment draws its combustion air  directly from outside the home. The combustion products are exhausted directly  out of the home. The air intakes and exhaust are sealed off from the inside of  the home, and this greatly reduces the change for any spillage of combustion  products into the home.

While induced draft and power-vented appliances rely  on air in the home for combustion, they use a fan to force pollutants out of the  home. This reduces the chance of natural draft being overcome be other fans or  pressures in the home.

Use a properly sized range hood fan if you  use a gas range.

All kitchens should have exhaust ventilation to  remove odors and excess moisture associated with cooking. While there are  various ventilation strategies for kitchens, a range hood is the most common.  When using a gas range, a range hood directly vented to the outside should be  used to capture the combustion products. These range hoods should be sized  correctly. For a typical kitchen range the American Society of Heating,  Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) recommend 100 cfm. Larger fans may need to have makeup air  provided to avoid excessively depressurizing the house, causing backdrafting or other problems.

After installation of combustion and/or  ventilation equipment, combustion equipment should be tested to be sure that it  functions properly.

It is important that your installer conducts a  worst-case depressurization test. This combustion safety test determines if any  non-sealed combustion appliances will backdraft or spill combustion products  into the living space. Tell your installer this test should use an established  procedure such as Appendix D of the International Fuel and Gas Code or ASTM  E1998 "Guide for Assessing Backdrafting and Spillage from Vented Combustion  Appliances"

Vent clothes dryers to the  outside.

Always vent clothes dryers directly outside. In  addition to combustion products produced by gas dryers, all dryers generate  large amounts of moisture and particulates which should be vented out of the  house before they have the opportunity to create problems.

Consider installing a Carbon Monoxide  Alarm.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas  which at high levels can cause serious illness and death. CO Alarms are widely  available and should be considered a back-up to BUT NOT A REPLACEMENT for proper  installation, use, and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances. CO Alarms are  designed to warn you of any unusual build-up of CO in your home. These higher  levels of CO may occur from improperly maintained, installed or used  fuel-burning appliances, backdrafting appliances or fireplaces, or idling cars  in garages. If a CO Alarm is to be installed:

  1. Make sure the device is certified to the most current  Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standard 2034 (1998) or the International Approval  Services (IAS) 6-96 (2nd Edition) standard.
  2. Install a CO alarm monitor in the hallway  near every separate sleeping area.
  3. Be aware of all instructions and warnings associated with the  CO Alarm.

About Moisture and Combustion

Controlling Moisture

Too  much moisture in a home can lead to mold, mildew, and other biological growth.  This in turn can lead to a variety of health effects ranging from more common  allergic reactions, to asthma attacks, and hypersensitivity pneumonitits, for  example. Excess moisture can be in the form of high relative humidity including  humidity generated by people and their activities such as showers, cooking, or  drying clothes. Water can also come from plumbing leaks, wet boots, or splashing  around sinks. Moisture can travel with infiltrating outdoor air (or exfiltrating  indoor air) through the building shell, including the foundation. In addition to  health problems, high relative humidity or water that enters building cavities  that is not allowed to dry quickly can lead to problems such as rot, structural  damage, and premature paint failure.

Methods to control moisture include building an energy-efficient home  with proper air-sealing, proper use of vapor barriers and vapor diffusion  strategies. The entire building envelope, from the foundation to the roof,  should be designed to not only prevent moisture entry, but also to allow any  moisture which does enter a means to escape. As mentioned above, people and  their activities in a home are big sources of moisture; thus proper ventilation  is also important in order to maintain indoor humidity levels within an  acceptable range.

Moisture  Control Techniques

1. Manage water outside the foundation walls.

The  ground around the home's foundation should be graded to slope down and away from  the house at a rate of 1/2" to 1" per linear foot to drain surface water away  from the house. Water from down spouts should be directed away from the house,  discharging at least a few feet from the foundation. Test any underground drains  with a hose to make sure they are working properly. Drains that are not working  should be repaired or replaced with an elbow discharge described above. Be sure  that driveways, sidewalks, and patios slope down and away from foundation walls  at 1/4" per linear foot. In extreme cases, you may have to dig out around the  foundation and replace the fill with an exterior drain tile and with a good  draining material such a clean gravel. Because this can be very expensive in  existing homes, you should get a few opinions as to whether this is necessary.  In some areas, there may not be enough room outside the dwelling to provide  proper drainage - in these cases, it is often recommended that interior drain  tile and a sump pump be installed to remove water from basements and  crawlspaces. This also can be very expensive.

2. Manage water inside the foundation walls and in the basement or crawl  space floor.

If  the basement or crawl space has a dirt floor, cover it with 6 mil poly,  overlapping edges by at least 12 inches. Seal any cracks or joints in the  foundation wall or slab with an elastomeric caulk.

3. Use construction techniques to control water, air movement, vapor  diffusion, and condensation. Use construction methods and materials which  promote the drying of building assemblies.

Use  construction techniques which reduce the likelihood that warm, moist air will  come in contact with cold surfaces, leading to condensation, mold growth, and  rot. This includes controlling air movement and using vapor barriers on the warm  side of walls and roofs. Proper flashing and drainage techniques should be used  to keep rainwater out. There are different strategies to achieve this, and the  strategies vary widely depending on the climate. For a good discussion of the  approaches, consult a building manual such as the Energy Efficient Building  Association's (EEBA) Builders Guide for your climate.

4. Roofs.

It  is important that the roof and flashing details and construction effectively  keep water out of the house. It is also important that the roof and attic design  addresses the issue of moisture in the form of water vapor to avoid condensation  in building cavities. There is no single strategy which will work for all houses  in all climate conditions. The important considerations are preventing movement  of moisture from the warm side to the cold side of the building envelope, and  managing moisture which does pass through the envelope to prevent condensation  on building materials.

5. Ensure the home is properly ventilated, with at least exhaust fans in  the bathroom and kitchen and preferably a mechanical ventilation system designed  to ventilate the entire house.

High relative humidity (RH) can lead to problems with mold, dust mites,  and other biological pollutants. Using exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen  can remove much of the moisture that builds up from everyday activities and help  to keep RH below 50%. There are exhaust fans on the market that produce little  noise, an important consideration for some people. Another benefit to using  kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans is that they can also exhaust odors and  pollutants from these rooms. These fans can be part of an active ventilation  system for the entire house, and help to reduce humidity levels. Vent bathroom,  kitchen, and clothes dryer/laundry room exhausts directly to the outside, not  into an attic or other enclosed space.

6. Size Air-Conditioning Equipment correctly.

More is not always better. Incorrectly sized equipment can lead to  operational and cost problems. Oversized air conditioning systems can  "short-cycle" leading to rapid cooling without reducing indoor humidity levels.  This can lead to a variety of problems associated with high relative humidity.  Heat gain and heat loss should be determined for each house. The Air  Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA) provides a recognized standard  procedure in the publication, Manual J. Equipment should be sized for  each individual house because even identically built homes will be affected by  variations such as solar orientation and shading which affect heating and  cooling loads.

Correct refrigerant charge (not under- or over-charged) and proper  maintenance are also necessary for optimum performance of air  conditioners.

7. Low Relative Humidity.

Below 30 percent relative humidity, people can be uncomfortable and can  suffer from dry mucus membranes which can lead to nosebleeds and infections. In  general, low relative humidity is only a problem during the winter months, when  the outside air contains very little moisture. It is this dry outside air  entering the home through cracks and openings in the building shell that causes  the inside air to become dry. The greater the amount of outside air which leaks  into the house, the dryer the indoor air becomes. By air-sealing and using  energy-efficient construction, uncontrolled air leakage is greatly reduced, a  more controlled indoor environment is created, and moisture can be maintained at  acceptable levels without the use of a humidifier. Humidifiers require  maintenance to avoid becoming breeding grounds for bacteria and molds.

Back drafting CO gas

About Combustion and Backdrafting

Combustion Appliance  Backdrafting

As  we exhaust air from our homes, and as air naturally leaks out of our homes  because of wind or the stack effect, it is replaced by outdoor air. If we  exhaust a lot of air, we can depressurize the home. Sufficient depressurization  can actually pull air and combustion products back down a chimney or any flue,  such as that of a gas water heater, and into the house. Because of the harmful  substances, such as carbon Monoxide, in  combustion gases, this depressurization can create a very dangerous  situation.

Forces working to depressurize a home include those shown in  the figure below, bathroom exhaust fans, kitchen range hoods, and clothes  dryers. Other forces not shown in the diagram include the fireplaces, leaky  return ducts near combustion equipment, leaky supply ducts outside the  conditioned space, wind, and the stack effect (warm air rising in a building  tends to depressurize lower areas). If these forces are great enough, they can  work to suck air and combustion products back down the chimney or flue and into  the house, as shown by the red arrows in the diagram.

Backdrafting Diagram

Source: Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) 

About Combustion Carbon  Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide  Questions and Answers

  • What is carbon monoxide (CO) and how is it produced in the home?
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is  produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels.  Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquefied petroleum (LP gas), oil, kerosene,  coal, or wood may produce CO. Burning charcoal produces CO. Running cars produce  CO.
  • How many people are unintentionally poisoned by CO?
  • Every year, over 200 people in the United States die from CO  produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room  heaters). Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home,  garage, vehicle or tent. Still others die from CO produced by cars left running  in attached garages. Several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms for  treatment for CO poisoning.
  • What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
  • The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but  without the fever). They include:
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu or  are misdiagnosed by physicians, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.
  • What should you do to prevent CO poisoning?
    • Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's instructions  and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.  Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced  annually. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages,  corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
    • Install a CO detector and alarm that meets the  requirements of the current UL standard 2034 or the requirements of the IAS 6-96  standard. A carbon monoxide detector/alarm can provide added protection, but is  no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO.  Install a CO detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of  the home. Make sure the detector cannot be covered up by furniture or  draperies.
    • Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
    • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage,  vehicle, or tent.
    • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door  open.
    • Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and  tools. Always refer to the owner's manual when performing minor adjustments or  servicing fuel-burning appliances.
    • Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for  heating your home.
    • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors  or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.
    • Do not use gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors. If use is  unavoidable, ensure that adequate ventilation is available and whenever possible  place engine unit to exhaust outdoors.
  • What CO level is dangerous to your health?
  • The health effects of CO depend on the level of CO and length of  exposure, as well as each individual's health condition. The concentration of CO  is measured in parts per million (ppm). Health effects from exposure to CO  levels of approximately 1 to 70 ppm are uncertain, but most people will not  experience any symptoms. Some heart patients might experience an increase in  chest pain. As CO levels increase and remain above 70 ppm, symptoms may become  more noticeable (headache, fatigue, nausea). As CO levels increase above 150 to  200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.
  • What should you do if you are experiencing symptoms of CO  poisoning?
  • If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CO  poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors for more  ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house. Call your  fire department and report your symptoms. You could lose consciousness and die  if you do nothing. It is also important to contact a doctor immediately for a  proper diagnosis. Tell your doctor that you suspect CO poisoning is causing your  problems. Prompt medical attention is important if you are experiencing any  symptoms of CO poisoning when you are operating fuel-burning appliances. Before  turning your fuel-burning appliances back on, make sure a qualified  serviceperson checks them for malfunction.
  • What has changed in CO detectors/alarms recently?
  • CO detectors/alarms always have been and still are designed to alarm  before potentially life-threatening levels of CO are reached. The UL standard  2034 (1998 revision) has stricter requirements that the detector/alarm must meet  before it can sound. As a result, the possibility of nuisance alarms is  decreased.
  • What should you do when the CO detector/alarm sounds?
  • Never ignore an alarming CO detector/alarm. If the detector/alarm sounds:  Operate the reset button. Call your emergency services (fire department or 911).  Immediately move to fresh air -- outdoors or by an open  door/window.
  • How should a consumer test a CO detector/alarm to make sure it is  working?
  • Consumers should follow the manufacturer's instructions. Using a  test button, some detectors/alarms test whether the circuitry as well as the  sensor which senses CO is working, while the test button on other detectors only  tests whether the circuitry is working. For those units which test the circuitry  only, some manufacturers sell separate test kits to help the consumer test the  CO sensor inside the alarm.
  • What is the role of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in  preventing CO poisoning?
  • CPSC worked closely with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to help  develop the safety standard (UL 2034) for CO detectors/alarms. CPSC helps  promote carbon monoxide safety awareness to raise awareness of CO hazards and  the need for regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances. CPSC recommends  that every home have a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the most  recent UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard in the hallway near every  separate sleeping area. CPSC also works with industry to develop voluntary and  mandatory standards for fuel-burning appliances.
  • Do some cities require that CO detectors/alarms be installed?
  • On September 15, 1993, Chicago, Illinois became one of the first cities in  the nation to adopt an ordinance requiring, effective October 1, 1994, the  installation of CO detectors/alarms in all new single-family homes and in  existing single-family residences that have new oil or gas furnaces. Several  other cities also require CO detectors/alarms in apartment buildings and  single-family dwellings.
  • Should CO detectors/alarms be used in motor homes and other recreational  vehicles?
  • CO detectors/alarms are available for boats and recreational  vehicles and should be used. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association  requires CO detectors/alarms in motor homes and in towable recreational vehicles  that have a generator or are prepped for a generator.

� Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission  ((CPSC)

A Few Words  About CO Detectors

Carbon Monoxide Detectors are widely available  in stores and you may want to consider buying one as a back-up --BUT NOT AS A  REPLACEMENT for proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances.  However, it is important for you to know that the technology of CO detectors is  still developing, that there are several types on the market, and that they are  not generally considered to be as reliable as the smoke detectors found in homes  today. Some CO detectors have been laboratory-tested, and their performance  varied. Some performed well, others failed to alarm even at very high CO levels,  and still others alarmed even at very low levels that don’t pose any immediate  health risk. And unlike a smoke detector, where you can easily confirm the cause  of the alarm, CO is invisible and odorless, so its harder to tell if an alarm  is false or a real emergency.

So What is a Consumer to Do?

First, don’t let buying a CO detector fool you into a false sense of  security. Preventing CO from becoming a problem in your home is better than  relying on an alarm. Follow the checklist of DOs and DON’Ts.

Second, if you shop for a CO detector, do some research on features and don’t  select solely on the basis of cost. Non-governmental organizations such as  Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports), the American Gas  Association, and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) can help you make an informed  decision. Look for UL certification on any detector you purchase.

Carefully follow manufacturers instructions for its placement, use, and  maintenance.

If the CO detector alarm goes off:

  • Make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.
  • Check to see if any member of the household is experiencing symptoms of  poisoning.
  • If they are, get them out of the house immediately and seek medical  attention. Tell the doctor that you suspect CO poisoning.
  • If no one is feeling symptoms, ventilate the home with fresh air, turn off  all potential sources of CO -- your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas  range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater and any vehicle or small  engine.
  • 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.

Combustion Resources

Links to  Organizations

American College of  Preventive Medicine

American Lung  Association

California  Environmental Protection Agency: Combustion Pollutants in Your Home

Environmental Health Center

Oklahoma State University  Online Safety Library: Carbon Monoxide

U.S.  Department of Energy


U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency

Links to Training

Building Performance  Institute

The Environmental  Institute

Training Guide: Home Energy  Magazine

WAP  Training Facilities

Links to Articles

Building,  Renovating, and Maintaining

Weatherization  Saves Lives

CPSC and EPA  Disclaimer:
The information provided on  this page is based upon the CPSC and EPA's current scientific and technical  understanding of the issues presented. Following the advice given will not  necessarily provide complete protection in all situations or against all health  hazards that may be caused by indoor air pollution and other indoor  environmental contaminants. Mention of any trade names or commercial products  does not constitute CPSC or EPA endorsement or recommendation for  use.

DSA Disclaimer: (AAPI,inc.) makes no claim as to the accuracy of the  information provided above, which is reprinted as a courtesy to the reader from  a CPSC/EPA document. The reader should conduct their own independent research to  verify the accuracy of CPSC and EPA's information

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and  Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA)

Copyright 1992 - 2012 aapiinfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved