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How To Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Exposure From A Gas Fireplace

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Gas fireplaces offer a lot of benefits that wood-burning fireplaces do not offer, and that is why you might be considering a gas fireplace for your home. If so, you should realize that gas fireplaces do require maintenance and they do have risks. One risk you should be aware of is the possibility of carbon monoxide leaking into your home from your fireplace. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas; however, you can prevent this from being a problem by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and by keeping your fireplace maintained.

What Carbon Monoxide Is

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is completely tasteless, odorless, and colorless. In other words, when carbon monoxide is present, you will never know. Carbon monoxide is created when gas is used to fuel things, such as fireplaces, dryers, and stoves. When you turn on a gas fireplace, there is always a risk that some of the gas your fireplace uses will not burn completely, and this is what actually causes carbon monoxide to form.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide exposure can be deadly. If you do not know the gas is present, and if you are breathing it in, you can become sick from it. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, carbon monoxide poisonings are responsible for approximately 170 deaths a year. In addition, many people become sick from breathing in this gas, and they may experience symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

If you feel these things and continue breathing in carbon monoxide, it could lead to death.

The Importance Of Having A Carbon Monoxide Detector

While you may not be able to control how much carbon monoxide is released in your home when using your gas fireplace, you can control the amount you breathe in. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is an effective way to avoid getting poisoned by this gas, and you may even want to consider installing multiple detectors.

The first place to put a carbon monoxide detector is approximately 15 feet from your gas fireplace. You can read the instructions on the device to find out what height to place it at, but typically height is not important because carbon monoxide weighs approximately the same as air.

You may also want to consider placing a detector in each bedroom of your home. This is important because you may not hear the main carbon monoxide detector go off if you are sleeping, simply because of the location of your bedroom compared to where it is mounted. If you install a detector in each bedroom, it could alert you or other family members if it senses too much carbon monoxide in the air, and this could save your life.

How Maintenance Of Your Fireplace Can Reduce Risks

Finally, you should realize that you can reduce the chances of carbon monoxide exposure by taking the proper steps to keep your fireplace maintained. Here are two important ways you can do this:

  1. Hire a contractor to clean your fireplace each year – Chimney sweeps are people that offer this service, and gas fireplaces need to be cleaned just like wood-burning stoves. Gas fireplace inserts can develop a buildup of debris from logs used in them or from condensation that gets trapped.
  2. Install an oxygen-depletion sensor in your fireplace – This sensor is used to shut off the gas if too much carbon monoxide is present. It is considered a safety device, and you should make sure you have one before using your fireplace.

Gas fireplaces are nice because they are less messy than wood ones, but there are risks with any type of fireplace you have. To keep your family and your home safe, make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector if you get a fireplace in your home. To learn more about fireplace options and safety, contact a company that sells and installs fireplaces, such as Alpine Fireplaces.


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