Is Your Life Worth $25?

This very cold winter has been responsible for many accidents, including deaths from CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning. 

These disasters might have been averted if a properly located and operating carbon monoxide alarm had been installed. For just $25 a battery-operated or for $50 a hardwired alarm can be purchased and installed.

What is CO?  Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is tasteless, odorless, invisible, and none irritating gas. It also weighs approximately the same per cubic foot as the air in your house. If it is going to poison you, you won’t know anything about it!

What causes CO?  CO is a product of incomplete combustion due to an insufficient oxygen supply. This can occur by not supplying a fossil fuel burning appliance with enough air. Your furnace, water heater, fireplace, automobile either needs to be located in a wide open space or have an outside air supply. There are formulas for how big an open space is needed, but by installing an outside air supply you are assured of having sufficient air for complete combustion. Or carbon monoxide occurs when fossil fuel appliance burners are incorrectly tuned or when the burner exhaust system is blocked or leaking. In other words you are re-burning the original exhaust products. A safe appliance produces carbon dioxide (CO2). Only when there is not enough oxygen in the air or when you re-burn oxygen from the CO2 does the appliance become a CO producer.

All homes should have a CO detector within 10’ of all bedrooms.

What is the action level?  Obviously you would like to have zero CO in your house. But that may not be possible; you should expect a level of less than 15 ppm in your home. Exposures at 100 ppm (parts per million) or greater can be dangerous to human health. At this level the symptom would be a slight headache in 2-3 hours of exposure. People who survive CO poisoning and complain of low to severe headaches and nausea are lucky. They just got a relatively low dose of this insidious poisoning. Elevated levels of CO will simply kill you before you know anything about it.

All systems that burn fossil fuels… Oil, Gas, Wood… should be examined and tuned by an expert annually.

Doug Hastings
MN Home Inspector, Minneapolis & St. Paul
ASHI certified inspector, ACI
Kaplan University, Home Inspection Lead Instructor

Rob ‘Pops’ Leslie
Kaplan Professionals, Retired


4 Top Tips to Keep You & Your Home Safe for the Holidays

What is the #1 cause of house fire?

The answer is electrical wiring. During the holiday season wiring to Christmas lights and trees are particularly dangerous. Some tips to keep you safe are:

  1. Carefully inspect light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders, or loose connections.
  2. When replacing bulbs unplug the light string and match voltage and wattage to the original bulb.
  3. For exterior lights use only those rated for exterior use.
  4. Both interior and exterior lights should have an Underwriters’ Laboratory label.
  5. When connecting multiple strings of lights check how many can be safely strung together according to the manufacturers specifications or UL listing.
  6. When hanging outdoors lights keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal gutters and overhangs.
  7. Never connect more than one extension cord together. Don’t use extension cords that are too long. Never install an extension cord under a rug or near a heat source.
  8. Make sure each outlet you plug into is not overloaded.
  9. Always turn off lights when you leave the house or going to bed.

What is the #2 fire hazard?

Over 40% of all home fires are caused by defective heating equipment. If you haven’t already, you should schedule a tune up and safety check of the water heater, furnace or boiler before Christmas. Be sure the heat exchanger, the vent and flue are inspected. These are the primary causes of fire or CO poisoning.

Don’t forget to inspect both gas and wood burning fireplaces for condition and safe operation. Use a screen or glass door and never leave any fireplace unattended. Don’t burn gift wrappings, tissue, or evergreens in the fireplace.

#3 Keep your Christmas tree away from the fireplace, keep water in the base, and turn off the lights when you leave the home unattended.

#4 Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Enjoy this very special season!

Doug Hastings
MN Home Inspector, Minneapolis & St. Paul
ASHI certified inspector, ACI
Kaplan University, Home Inspection Lead Instructor

Rob ‘Pops’ Leslie
Kaplan Professionals, Retired