With snow in the forecast later this week, most Texomans will be cranking up the heat, but if your appliances aren't in working order, you could be letting a silent killer into your home. Here are some tips to protect your family from carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is not easy to detect.
"It's an odorless and it's a colorless gas," said Wichita Falls Fire Marshal David Collins.
He says problems with heating appliances can lead to serious carbon monoxide risks.
"It's a by-product of an incomplete burn. It's a poisonous gas," he said.
That's not something you want to risk having in your house when you use your furnace, water heater, fireplace, or a number of other appliances. We spoke with a home inspector who has tips on how to prevent the invisible gas from invading your home.
"If you've got a gas system, especially if they're older systems, they can become built up with a lot of different soots and stuff and sometimes they get a crack in the heating exchanger," said Mark Turnbow.
Now's an ideal time of year to get a professional to check or clean out your equipment and appliances. Turnbow says you're more prone to have ventilation problems if you've had any work done on your roof recently, because workers may knock things around incidentally.
"When I'm inspecting houses, I notice those vents have come loose and they're emitting the combustion gases into the attic area,' he said.
Also, remember the 'blue flame' rule when you're looking at your furnace or other gas-burning device.
"You're looking for a blue flame with kind of a white tip. If there's anything less than that, lots of times you may have an incomplete combustion problem," Turnbow said.
Remember, you don't want blockages in your fireplace flue. Make sure there's always a way for the carbon monoxide to get out and the oxygen to get in.
"That's why the ventilation is so important to have it to escape from the confines of your home," Collins said.
Turnbow recommends any house that uses natural gas at all should have a carbon monoxide detector. Even if you've had your home checked by a professional, the sensor may be your best defense.