31 Jul. 19

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your Toronto Home

Detecting Carbon Monoxide presence in your Toronto home can be a difficult prospect. Due to its slow killing ability, it has been tagged “silent killer” by many. Carbon Monoxide (CO) has many dangerous characteristics, such as being odourless, tasteless, and colourless. 

Carbon Monoxide (CO) can be found in your home in places like your gas ranges, furnaces, and fireplace. The gradual settlement of CO in your home can poison you, your pets, and whoever breathes it. A recent study shows that a total of 2,244 deaths occurred in 5 years due to the accidental inhalation of carbon monoxide. This study also proved that the highest number of deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning are recorded during the winter season. 

Having the knowledge of how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your Toronto home is essential. CO preventive measures are one of the most crucial home safety techniques you should understand intimately. Carbon monoxide is a gas with significantly life-threatening repercussions if given freedom to settle indoors. Luckily, there are suitable preventive measures you can take to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning in Toronto.

Getting to know the causes of the indoor settling and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is essential. This will help you understand the potential risks, and strategize on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Recently, a Toronto family was rushed to the hospital for CO poisoning. This scenario was a firm reminder that the poisonous gas can strike hard any time. Two (2) family members were already unconscious before the emergency crews could arrive.

CO poisoning is currently the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in Toronto. Even if you survive it, it can cause permanent brain damage. This article contains nuggets on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

Related article: How to Choose the Right Filter for Your Furnace


What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

Carbon monoxide is an inorganic compound, which is colourless, odourless, flammable, and highly toxic gas. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a very deadly invisible gas that is capable of cutting life short with a few short inhaled breaths.

It’s produced when wood or fuels do not burn completely in fuel-burning devices and appliances. Examples of such fuels include gasoline, heating oil, propane, or natural gas. Fuel-burning appliances that give off carbon monoxide include gas or wood fireplaces, stoves, water heaters, generators, stoves, furnaces, barbeques, and vehicles.


What is Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning?

Breathing Carbon Monoxide in typically damages the ability of your blood to circulate oxygen. Hence, the poisoning stage sets-in as a result of the body not receiving adequate oxygen or asphyxiation.

What makes “CO” very risky and poisonous is that whenever you breathe in CO, it creates a strong bond with your blood cells. This bond prevents the circulation of life-giving oxygen to your brain and body, eventually resulting in death. It adequately ceases the transfer of oxygen in your body system.

Preventing carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is vital because even at average contamination levels, it can be very deadly within a few minutes.


The Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide poisoning has different symptoms such as dizziness, visual changes, nausea, walking problems, impaired judgment, and so on. The list is pretty comprehensive. 

However, if you notice any symptoms directly related to those mentioned above, trace and turn off the source. Take a stroll outside your Toronto home to receive fresh air and stay away from your home for as long as possible. You should know that carbon monoxide (CO) is a little bit lighter than air, so it’s likely to rise higher in the atmosphere.

Also, carbon monoxide indoors is typically created from incomplete combustion – a heat source, thus travelling in a warm air stream. Warm air is capable of rising, and it’s more buoyant.


What Causes Carbon Monoxide Leakage?

Household appliances are the major causes of carbon monoxide leakages. Some household appliances like heating systems, gas fires, and boilers, among others are potential carbon monoxide leakage sources.

Running your car engine in an enclosed area can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, accidental exposure due to blocked pipes and ducts which prevent CO gas from escaping can enhance toxicity levels.


How do you treat Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? 

The first step in treating CO poisoning is to inhale pure oxygen immediately after exposure to carbon monoxide. This will replace carbon monoxide with pure oxygen in your blood, therefore setting your body system free from poison. In serious cases, hyperbaric oxygen therapy rooms are implemented for better results.

This oxygen therapy involves inhaling pure oxygen in a room where the air pressure is two to three times more than usual. This process enhances the quick replacement of carbon monoxide (CO) in your blood with pure oxygen.

Related article: Do I Need a High-Efficiency Furnace?


Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Now that you have ideas on what CO is, the causes, symptoms, and the level of risk, we’ll explain the preventive measures. There are a few simple changes you can make around your home to help you prevent this deadly gas.

The Toronto government has regulations binding landlords and tenants in Toronto on how to prevent CO poisoning. Below are a few landlords to tenant preventive measures in accordance with Toronto regulations.

Every Landlord must:

  • Install CO alarms in accordance with the Ontario Fire Code.
  • Sustain CO alarms in perfect working condition.
  • Sustain the primary and secondary mains outlet serving the carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Provide your tenants with a copy of the CO alarms users’ guide and maintenance instructions.
  • The same is applicable for smoke alarms

In the same vein, every tenant must:

  • Notify the landlord as soon as you realize the carbon monoxide alarm in the unit is not working or disconnected.
  • Not disconnect the carbon monoxide alarm.
  • The same is applicable for smoke alarms

As a tenant, you have the right to report your Landlord over CO alarms related issue. Most especially if the landlord refuses to provide working CO alarms as required by the government. You can always call the Toronto Fire Services or call 311 for a referral to any available fire inspector.

The penalties for violating or defying these regulations under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act (FPPA) are:

  • $100,000 for a corporation or firm.
  • $50,000 or one (1) year in jail for an individual

Always check your Chimney for Safety and Effectiveness

Cleaning and inspecting pipes and fireplaces in your home is vital for effectiveness and safety. A blocked duct poses a potential risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

You should always check for any blockages, such as debris or bird nests. Additionally, always ensure there is no significant residual buildup, as it can be deadly. Excess soot can ignite the ducts and cause flames. At worse, this can even cause a fire outbreak. Always inspect the duct damper to ensure it’s well placed; opens, seals, and closes appropriately. 

Always get rid of dangerous, flammable soot or creosote from inside the duct. If your chimney pipe hasn’t been checked in a while, call experts to inspect and clean the ducts. However, for Toronto home-owners that have a gas-burning fireplace, the following tips should help keep you safe: 

  • Check the glass doors for leakages or cracks.
  • Check the positioning of the gas cylinder.
  • Try turning the gas off at the switch valve and test the igniter.
  • Assess risks and avoid them.

Avoid keeping fuel-burning equipment in your garage

Make sure your vents or garage is free of any fuel-burning appliances. Instead, you can always use your fuel-burning devices outdoors to ensure safety. Avoid using a grill indoors and enlighten your family members on preventive measures and signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Installing a CO alarm near those fuel-burning appliances is a great idea to prevent CO poisoning. 

Always take good care of your home appliances and ensure they’re in good shape to ensure your indoor safety. Recall that whatever burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide and CO is dangerous to your health.

Ensure your HVAC vents have proper airflow

Generally, furniture is often moved from one place to another all round the year. Sometimes, new furniture is moved into the home. Always cross-check your house surroundings to make sure nothing blocks your heating vents. Clogged vents are useless if smoke and heat can’t get out. In addition, a clogged vent can cause an overheated furnace.

Ensure trees, plants, debris, or snowflakes aren’t disrupting air intakes or outtakes around your home. Clean out dryer vents – it prevents home fires. Inspect your pipes and ducts for potential blockages. Standard ventilation will help to reduce the likelihood of mould growth while creating a healthier indoor and outdoor environment. Check your supply point (heat blows out of these) and your return points, the air is drawn into these.

Have you ever closed the vents in unused rooms to save money? If yes, you shouldn’t close those vents again. There are dangerous consequences for closing those vents.

Simply closing those vents do more harm than good. Below are a few risks you’re being exposed to by closing those vents.

  • Cause convenience issues due to low airflow.
  • Cause cracked or blocked heat exchanger, with a possibility of getting carbon monoxide in your home.
  • Increase chimney leakages.
  • Cause mould growth and condensation in winter because of the low surface temperature in rooms with closed vents.

Install carbon monoxide alarms and detectors

Installing CO alarms and detectors in your home is one of the most effective ways of preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. The CO detectors are more like smoke detectors. The difference between the two is that – CO detectors only detect levels of carbon monoxide instead of smoke and fire.

To safeguard your home, you should consider installing CO alarms and detectors. Recall that carbon monoxide is odourless and very deadly. Alarms and detectors are recommended if you want to keep your home, family and pets safe from this poisonous gas.

Also, make sure you go through your carbon monoxide detectors users’ guide before installing it for efficient functioning. You can also consult the manual for tips on where to install it and how to properly maintain the detectors. Make a commitment to change the batteries twice a year. Make it easy on yourself, whenever it’s time to spring forward or fall back (change the time on your clocks), replace your batteries. 

Be sure always to contact an HVAC professional to inspect and resolve any problems relating to your home vents. Always test both the detectors and alarms at least once a month for better safety experience. The actuation of your CO alarms indicates the existence of carbon monoxide poison, which can kill you. 

Know the Sound of Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Your Carbon Monoxide alarm sounds much different than your regular smoke alarm. Endeavour to test both alarms regularly and ensure everyone in your home knows the difference between the two sounds. Avoid getting confused by the sound of your carbon monoxide alarm’s low-battery warning. 

Read your Carbon Monoxide alarm manufacturer’s guide, so you can understand the difference between each sound from the alarm. The “low-battery” warning sound is different from the “end-of-life” warning, and the alert indicating the presence of CO in your home.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Always service your HVAC system and any other fuel-burning appliances with an expert technician annually. Be aware that fumes from ovens and heaters, if used the wrong way or not working correctly can be life-threatening. Running a pre-season furnace check-up and cleaning by an expert is also essential. It can expose any potential issues or confirm whether your HVAC system is healthy and ready for the winter season.

A professional technician will check for ventilation, safety and operation, and mechanical maintenance. Notably, with a thorough inspection and regular maintenance efforts, a general furnace can last for more than 20 years. 

However, if you notice any unusual noises or odours during the winter season, it may indicate a potential problem. Endeavour to always address such issues immediately to prevent total chaos or furnace failure, which may lead to severe injuries.

Avoid running your car in the Garage

Generally, most people believe that it’s okay to run their car so far, the garage door is wide open. However, it’s very risky. The unusual high concentrations of carbon monoxide produced by a car engine can raise the carbon monoxide levels of indoor air. If such should happen in a closed building, the person present may collapse quickly before realizing the causative factor.

Also, it’s a known fact that carbon monoxide concentrations can reach the Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) level within a short period. It’s capable of reaching up to 1,200 parts per million (ppm) in just 7 minutes. Most especially, when a small five (5) horse-power gasoline engine is being run in a 10,000 cubic foot room.

Also, warming up your car in the garage for just two (2) minutes can raise Carbon monoxide concentrations. So, if you need to warm your car, take it outdoors and away from the garage before starting it. 

Avoiding Heating your Home with Your Gas Oven

While it may sound like a quick alternative, never use your oven to heat your home. An unattended, overworked oven can cause a significant explosion. Ovens are simply not built to run for extended periods of time. Dangerous carbon monoxide gas can be released directly to the surroundings from the gas flames that are supposedly meant to heat the oven. 

Stay alert While Using Fuel-Burning Space Heaters

Space heaters require proper attention whenever you are using them. Always regulate the maximum temperature of the unit. Also, make sure all other materials are kept at least three (3) feet away from the unit.

Recently, it’s been discovered that space-heaters cause approximately one-third of home heating fires and 80% of home-related deaths annually. Always remember to turn off your portable space heaters when going to bed or leaving the house. 

Only use the space-heaters in areas with proper ventilation. Any space heater (electric or fuel) can be a source of a fire hazard if not correctly handled. Also, make sure to always use your space heater with caution.

Apparently, preventing carbon monoxide poisoning does not require expensive, fancy tools or complete home renovations. You can always avoid monoxide carbon poisoning with little common-sense practices. This will help keep you and your family safe in your Toronto home.

Additionally, it’s essential to remain vigilant and cautious about the use of all fuel-burning appliances indoors. Remember carbon monoxide gas is odourless and colourless, and a small amount can cause severe harm and sickness.

Related article: Why does my air conditioner smell?



The leading cause of carbon monoxide poisoning in every home in Toronto ranges from water heaters, faulty furnaces, fireplaces, and stoves. It’s vital to take the necessary preventive measures to keep carbon monoxide poisoning away from your home. Sometimes, it may be a simple, venting problem. If left unattended, it can intensify into serious health issues.

Get an HVAC professional technician to help you inspect your HVAC annually. With the right maintenance, your furnace will work more effectively. At the same time, spending money to maintain your HVAC will save you from spending more money on expensive energy costs. Call us today!