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Colourless, odourless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that at high levels can cause convulsions, respiratory failure and even death. At lower levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are milder and similar to those of the flu – headaches, weakness, nausea, dizziness, watery eyes and loss of muscle control.

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning (due to lack of oxygen) of fuels such as wood, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel, coal or charcoal.

Fuel Converts to CO2

  • Any fuel-powered vehicle, equipment or appliance can produce carbon monoxide.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces and even tobacco smoke also contribution to carbon monoxide production.
  • Most fuel-burning appliances and equipment, when property installed and regularly maintained, do not release carbon monoxide into your home.
  • But they must also have appropriate ventilation to carry exhausts outdoors.
  • If anything interferes with the air supply or venting system, incomplete combustion or burning will occur and produce carbon monoxide.
  • Carbon monoxide may also be caused by running fuel-powered vehicles, snow blowers and lawn mowers inside a garage or basement.
  • Cutting off fresh air sources to a furnace room and using a wood-burning fireplace with a blocked chimney or little outside ventilation will also produce carbon monoxide.

To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Buildup:

  • Have your furnace professionally cleaned and inspected annually.
  • Let some air enter your home through vents and slightly opened windows.
  • Never leave your car or other fuel-powered equipment running in a closed garage.
  • Avoid using propane, kerosene or butane in heaters and other appliances inside your home.
  • Never use an outdoor barbecue (charcoal or propane), or even store a propane cylinder, inside your home.
  • Ensure that your wood-burning fireplace has its own outside air source, and have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Try to keep a window near the fireplace open when it is working and the furnace is on.
  • Do not smother a fire in a wood stove or a fireplace.
  • A propane refrigerator should be vented directly outdoors and checked regularly by a professional.
  • When the furnace is on, run exhaust fans, clothes dryers and central vacuum systems only for a short periods of time. These household appliances and systems send a lot of air out of a home and may reduce the air supply for your furnace and other fuel-burning equipment.
  • Consider using a carbon monoxide detector in your home. While these detectors are not a substitute for proper care and maintenance, they provide a good second line of defence. Install them near bedrooms and sleeping areas.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately and seek medical attention.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board.

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