What are some common sources of carbon monoxide (CO)?

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that's produced during incomplete combustion of any fuel like natural gas, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, wood, gas, oil or coal. Common sources include:

  • A vehicle running in an attached garage
  • Furnace
  • Clothes dryer
  • Range
  • Oven
  • Stove
  • Fireplace
  • Water heater
  • Space heater
  • Portable generator
  • Charcoal grill

When there is enough fresh air in your home to allow for complete combustion and these appliances are vented and work properly, in normal operating conditions, the trace amounts of CO produced by these sources are not typically dangerous. However, there are common conditions that can cause CO levels to rise quickly:

  • Appliance malfunction, i.e. the heat exchanger on your furnace cracks
  • Vent, flue, or chimney is blocked by debris or even snow
  • Fireplace, wood burning stove, charcoal grill or other source of burning material that is not properly vented
  • Vehicle is left running in an attached garage and carbon monoxide seeps into the house
  • Several appliances running at the same time and competing for limited fresh air can be a cause of carbon monoxide buildup. This condition can result in incomplete combustion and produce CO, even if all appliances are in good working condition

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