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How Do You Test For Carbon Monoxide In Your Home?

Carbon Monoxide Test In Your Home | Lexity

 

Feeling nauseous due to changes in the air? If you can’t explain the sudden drop in air quality, it might be related to carbon monoxide.

The longer one inhales carbon monoxide, the more danger it poses to health. Since the poisonous gas is odorless and tasteless, it is difficult to detect a leak in any part of the house. However, there are some telltale signs that you can observe and determine that there is indeed something fishy in the air you breathe. 

 

Signs Of A Carbon Monoxide Leak

 

  • Yellow-brownish stains around an appliance 
  • Unusual odours from other gases that accompany CO in a leak 
  • Yellow flame in burner instead of blue
  • Smoke or fumes emitting from fireplace or chimney

 

How Do You Test For Carbon Monoxide In Your Home?

 

Open-flued appliances or appliances that eliminate exhaust gases through pipes have been a staple for most households. Yet, as homes get sealed from several places, there is a risk of the exhaust gas leaking back into the house, causing a health hazard. 

If there is indeed a gas leak from any indoor appliance, it is possible to detect it using a carbon monoxide test. In fact, tests for detecting CO in the indoor air are also common before the installation of a new appliance or servicing an existing one. 

Testing for the presence of carbon monoxide in the air requires a three-fold procedure in a specific order-

 

  1. Check baseline conditions
  2. Test for negative pressure
  3. Spillage test

 

1. Check Baseline Conditions

The first test involves conducting a smoke test to check if the environment has negative pressure. During this test, the appliance and the exhaust fans both need to be switched off since we are trying to check the regular gas levels. 

Begin this test by closing all doors and windows of the room and switching off all the open-flued appliances and exhaust fans. Take a smoke-producing machine like a smoke match or incense stick and place it at the draft diverter relief pipe of the appliance. Alternatively, one can place it near appliance openings that carry combustion air.

After lighting the smoke match, check if the fumes appear to be going towards the appliance or away from it. 

 

2. Test For Negative Pressure In The Room

If the room has negative pressure, harmful gasses like carbon monoxide cannot exit the room, thus creating a build-up of this toxic gas. This is why the second test checks for the pressure in the room. For this, you’ll need to turn on the extraction fans while keeping the external doors and windows closed to create a negative pressure environment. 

Again, place a smoke match at the draft diverter relief opening of the appliance near its combustion air pipe. Check to see if the smoke moves away from the appliance or not. At this point, one needs to compare this smoke pattern with the one observed during the baseline test. 

 

Check The Smoke Pattern

 

If the smoke pattern is different, then it can be assumed that there isn’t enough ventilation and will need to be corrected. In case the smoke pattern is the same, it can be said that turning on the extraction fans did not help at all. 

Alternatively, if the smoke flows away from the appliance and the pattern appears different, you’ll need to open a window to allow it to dissipate.

 

3. Spillage Test

Finally, professionals will check for defects in the appliance before conducting a spillage test and checking the operation of the appliance and the flue. Checking for spills requires taking a CO reading of the room for a baseline check. 

Keep the exhaust fans open in the room and switch on all the open-flued appliances at the highest setting. Type 1 decorative gas flames in the chimney need 10 minutes, while other appliances can be left on for 5 to 7 minutes. If the chimney doesn’t have a chimney liner and gas spillage is observed after 5 minutes, keep the space heater on to see if spillage reduces.

Note down the valves of the combustion products, which is your new baseline measurement. After the 5 – 10 minutes are up, check each appliance for gas spillage using the combustion detection equipment. For accurate detection, one has to check the external parts of the appliance like fan discharge points, flue connections, heat exchangers, and other openings.

 

Measuring Values 

 

After the test, if there is no CO present in these results, then you can rest assured that appliances are safe and there is no spillage. If the test detects the presence of CO, then you will need to start the test all over again to narrow down the cause. 

If there was spillage after mere 5 minutes of the test without a negative pressure environment, the issue might lie in the appliance or flue. If there is no visible issue after checking, it is best to avoid using the device and contact the appliance manufacturer for further investigation.

 

Checking Central Heating Units For CO Spills

 

We discussed checking for indoor appliances, but similar issues can occur in central heating units located on roofs or under floors. To check for carbon monoxide, start with a background test to note the regular levels in the air. Then turn on the heater and put the detection probe in the duct outlet that regulates the air stream.

Check this for 10-15 minutes and note the results. If the CO levels are elevated, you need to stop using the system and contact a professional to fix the appliance.

 

Final Words

 

The problem with carbon monoxide is that it can be dangerous to you and your family if left unchecked. We suggest getting a carbon monoxide test from a reputed company for peace of mind that the issue is in good hands. After all, it is worth investigating a faulty gas heater or damaged LPG appliances if it means bringing back the health of your family!

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