As colder fall weather has moved into the area, residents have turned up their thermostats
and closed in their homes and businesses. Under these conditions, use of appliances and
water heaters that have not been checked by a qualified professional, or that have not
been properly maintained, can lead to a higher risk of a potential carbon monoxide (CO)
build-up. UGI has responded to a number of CO-related incidents over the past several
Malfunctioning heating systems and appliances, as well as blocked vents and chimneys,
can be a source of carbon monoxide in a home or business. Carbon monoxide is a
colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is a by-product of the incomplete combustion of
fuels such as wood, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, natural gas and propane. Symptoms
of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.
CO poisoning is serious and can be fatal. Individuals who think they might be
experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately seek fresh air and prompt
Residents can take a number of steps to ensure the safe operation of appliances. These
include the following:
• Change or clean furnace filters regularly. Clogged filters can reduce the
efficiency of your heating equipment and impede normal operations. Also make
sure the filter you use is the proper size and shape for your system.
• Check that both internal and external combustion air vents are unobstructed.
External vents can become blocked by leaves or other debris.
• Ensure that equipment rooms or utility spaces are properly sized and provide
appropriate levels of ventilation and air circulation around heating equipment and
appliances to ensure their safe operation. If a furnace or water heater was enclosed
in a small room during recent remodeling or renovation, the reduced air flow can
create a potentially unsafe situation.
• Make sure working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are appropriately
located within living spaces, and the batteries powering them are fresh. CO
detectors/alarms should be located on each floor of a home, including one in each
bedroom or sleeping area. It is important to note that CO detectors have a limited
operating life. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for related information and
• Check for black stains visible on the outside of your chimney or flue. These
stains can indicate a blockage allowing exhaust gas, including CO, to enter your
home or workplace. Contact a heating professional to have equipment, chimneys
and flues checked.
If the heating equipment in your home or business is not working because of an electric
power outage, never use an oven or grill inside your home to provide heat.
Use caution when using unvented space heaters, which can be a source of CO. Always
follow manufacturer’s directions regarding use of these heaters. Unvented heaters are
designed for supplemental use only. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation in areas
where a space heater is used. Do not use unvented heaters in bedrooms, bathrooms, or
Signs there may be a build-up of CO in your home include:
• Significant condensation on walls and windows;
• House pets becoming sluggish;
• Chronic odors from a malfunctioning appliance;
• Residents in the home suffering flu-like symptoms or feeling unusually tired.
UGI Utilities has headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania and serves more than 700,000
customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland. Customers
interested in additional information visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; on Facebook
at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.