Safe Home Heating
It’s so easy and automatic that people just don’t think about it. Every year, when the weather turns cold, homeowners reach for household thermostats, flip a switch to turn on the heat and set the temperature to 68 or 70 degrees. Little thought is given to whether the furnace exhaust system – the chimney and connector pipe – is ready to provide safe, effective service.
Consumer confidence in the convenience and safety of today’s home heating systems is usually well-placed. The oil and gas heating industries have achieved impressive safety records. Nonetheless, over 200 people across the nation are known to die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by problems in the venting – out of their homes – of toxic gases produced by their heating systems. This is according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Other agencies estimate actual numbers at between 2,000 and 4,000.
In addition, around 10,000 cases of carbon monoxide-related “injuries” are diagnosed each year. Because the symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning “mimic” the symptoms of common winter ailments (headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and even seasonal depression), many cases are not detected until permanent, subtle damage to the brain, heart and other organs and tissues has occurred. The difficulty of diagnosis also means the numbers of people affected may be even higher.
Fortunately, regular chimney system inspection and maintenance can prevent poisoning incidents like these.