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Winterizing Your Home, Part 2: Carbon Monoxide Kills

In my last post, I talked about winterizing your Boston home from the outside. Making sure that water can get away from your home is key to preventing leaks. Draining sprinkler lines and faucets can help prevent freezing damage to valves and lines. Winterizing the outside of your home is only half of the battle. There’s plenty to do inside to get your Boston home ready for winter.

On the inside, your first priority is safety. Have your furnace or heating plant inspected annually by a trained, licensed heating and cooling professional. This is essential, especially if you have a high-efficiency furnace. In the grand scheme of things, high efficiency furnaces don’t have a very long life and problems can arise without warning. Carbon monoxide (CO) leaks can kill in a very short period of time. A furnace inspection, along with the installation (or testing) of carbon monoxide detectors can mean the difference between life and death.

Having a lower-efficiency furnace or boiler doesn’t mean you’re safe, though. These systems can also develop dangerous problems that can allow carbon monoxide to leak into the living space. If you do not know how to inspect your furnace or heating system for problems, please contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating. We’re always happy to help keep your home safe and comfortable in the winter.

Any gas-burning appliance (furnace, boiler, gas dryer, gas stove) can create carbon monoxide. CO is a sign that natural gas is not burning completely. Gas stoves burn natural gas almost entirely and do not normally require any special ventilation. If you notice that your “blue flame” is yellow or orange, your stove may be having a problem. If you smell natural gas when the stove is not in use, ventilate your kitchen immediately. Turn the gas valve off and vacate your home. Contact the gas company or Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating. We can locate and correct gas leaks around your major appliances.

Gas dryers, water heaters, furnaces, and boilers must all vent to the outside. Do not attempt to heat a basement or laundry space with venting from a gas dryer. You’ll end up with pretty wet air (which can encourage mold and mildew growth), and you could unknowingly allow CO into your living space.

Also, do not run a fuel-burning generator of any kind in or near your living space. This includes basements, utility rooms, and attached or closed garages. Kerosene and diesel generators must be vented to the outside, because like other combustible fuel burners, they generate lethal amounts of CO.

If you have any questions about your heating plant, gas-fired appliances, or back-up generators, please contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can inspect your heating plant and gas appliances, and correct any issues, add or replace safety valves and help you ensure that your home is ready for the heating season.