Carbon monoxide leaks can be a menace to public safety, and if you own or manage a business they are a threat you must be aware of.
If you’re using gas or oil to power your HVAC equipment, or your stoves if you run a restaurant, you will need to install carbon monoxide detectors, and you’ll need to have a plan of action in place so that everyone who works in your building is ready to move should a leak ever occur.
Unfortunately small leaks may not trigger these detectors, so you’ll need to know what to look out for even when your alarms are silent.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Leaks and What to Do About Them
If your detector sounds you will have no time to waste. Your evacuation plan should be activated immediately and everyone should be rapidly escorted or led out of the building.
Once people are up and moving toward the exits, you, along with the members of your “emergency team” (if you haven’t already created one do so soon) will need to make sure all possible sources of carbon monoxide contamination are deactivated and depowered.
You should also open all doors and windows to encourage swift ventilation of lingering gases, which are odorless and colorless and will not alert you to their presence unless detectors go off or people start showing signs of illness. Obviously if you’re showing serious signs of illness you should skip these last two steps and get out of the building as fast as you can.
Detectors may miss small leaks, but you can spot them if you’re paying attention. Bouts of dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, mental confusion and general feelings of physical discomfort and malaise are all indications that carbon monoxide is present. Outbreaks of such symptoms may occur suddenly or they may be a chronic problem reported by several people over the course of a few days, but either way they should not be ignored or assumed to be unimportant.
If unexplained illness is observed you should shut the building down for the day and send everyone home. Next, contact your HVAC service provider and ask them to dispatch a technician to check your heating and cooling system immediately. Needless to say you should also do this if your carbon monoxide detector sounds, after you’ve cut your HVAC systems’ power.
Carbon Monoxide Leak Prevention
It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is undoubtedly true with carbon monoxide leaks, which could be fatal if they are severe.
To reduce the risk of these leaks occurring, or running out of control if they do, you should:
- Hire an HVAC contractor to inspect your heating and cooling equipment every six to 12 months, and make sure you let them know you want your furnace or boiler’s heat exchanger checked closely during each maintenance visit (heat exchanger malfunction is the most common cause of carbon monoxide leaks).
- Have all your ventilating outlets—chimneys, wall vents, kitchen vents, fireplaces, etc. —periodically cleaned to eliminate any chance of blockage.
- Contact companies that specialize in the cleaning and maintenance of gas stoves, or any other (non-HVAC) fossil-fuel burning appliances you might have, to arrange for regular inspections.
Carbon Monoxide Leaks on Your Mind? Call Grant Mechanical Inc. Today
Grant Mechanical is the most trusted and reliable HVAC service provider in the Palo Alto area, and if you are concerned about the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your place of business please contact us today and we’ll send a technician out to inspect your HVAC system. The repair and maintenance of commercial HVAC systems is one of our specialties, and we take the threat of carbon monoxide leakage very seriously.