As colder weather settles in across UGI’s service territory, Company field employees have assisted customers on an increasing number of reports of carbon monoxide (CO) build-up inside homes and businesses.
UGI urges customers to have a qualified heating system professional check furnaces, water heaters and other internal combustion appliances. Having an annual check and service of your heating system and appliances will not only allow the unit to run more efficiently and reduce the possibility of a mid-winter breakdown, but it will also ensure the safe operation of the appliance.
Improperly-functioning heating systems and appliances can produce carbon monoxide. CO 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 can be fatal. Individuals who think they might be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately seek fresh air and prompt medical attention.
Other steps residents can take to ensure the safe operation of appliances include the following:
• Check that both internal and external combustion air vents are unobstructed. Vents can become blocked by vegetation or other debris during the summer months. Clear any obstructions away from vents.
• Ensure that equipment rooms or utility spaces are properly sized and provide 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 replacement considerations.
• 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. Do not use unvented heaters in bedrooms, bathrooms, or confined spaces. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation in areas where a space heater is used.
UGI Utilities has headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania and serves 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.