Archive for February, 2012
You Can’t See it, Hear it, or Smell it…But it’s There, All Right. And the Worst Thing You Can Do is Ignore it!
Every year, hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and thousands more become seriously ill. So here’s a quick primer on CO causes, how to minimize their effects, and why you should install a CO detector today!
Carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of appliances and power tools that burn fuels like gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal. Breathing low levels of CO can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and headaches. At higher levels of inhalation, CO can cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. At the extreme? Loss of consciousness and death.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM CO POISONING
Any tool or appliance that is not adequately vented and maintained can be a potential source of CO, including:
So the idea is to prevent CO poisoning from reaching dangerous levels in the first place…and here are a few simple steps to help you accomplish just that:
- Have your heating system, chimney and flue inspected and cleaned by a qualified technician every year.
- Don’t operate gasoline-powered engines in confined areas.
- Choose vented appliances whenever possible.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm in your home and garage.
ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
If you’re planning to purchase a CO detector – or even if you already own one – check to see that it carries the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label, a long-term warranty, and that it’s easy to self-test and reset.
Should your CO detector alarm suddenly go off:
- Check for symptoms of poisoning.
- Should you find any, get everyone out of the house and seek medical attention for those who require it.
- Otherwise, ventilate your home with fresh air, turn off all potential sources of CO, including your heating system and water heater, etc.
- Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to determine why the alarm sounded in the first place.
If you have any concerns or guidance on the best options, please contact Ashton Service Group at 604-283-2383 and we will be happy to assist.
Most people are astounded at the impact of even tiny leaks in faucets or toilets. Leaks that are barely perceptible to the naked eye can waste thousands of gallons of fresh water a year, costing you hundreds of dollars in excess water bills. If you have a leak that you know of, get it fixed before all that money goes, literally, down the drain. It’s a good idea to have a professional plumber do a complete household check-up to find leaks that escape casual notice.
Your water heater is one of the most important household appliances. Over time sediment builds at the bottom of the heater, which can hamper performance. A good professional will check this on an annual basis. He or she will also check the drain valve for signs of leakage, and the anode rods for corrosion.
Also important is a water heater burner inspection. A good way of telling is to check the flame under the water heater. It should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow or if you see a layer of soot and carbon, the flue ways may be clogged. Don’t try anything yourself at this point. Call a professional to investigate the situation.
Once a water heater springs a leak in its housing, it is beyond repair and must be replaced. Many units will last 15-20 years or even longer before this happens. (And it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient times, like when the family is coming over for a holiday gathering!) If you have an ancient water heater, it may pay off for you to get it replaced even before it breaks down. Units made in the last 10 -15 years have much higher operating efficiencies than older models. Savings in fuel costs often will pay for the new installation in just a few years.
Lawn sprinklers often spring leaks over the winter. If puddles form on your lawn, you probably have seepage in some of the lines.
Check your sump pump to make sure it’s in working order before the heavy spring rains begin. Watch for build-up of sand or other debris in the sump pit. This can jam the pump and burn out its motor. Also, make sure the pump’s discharge pipe is not clogged. Hook up a garden hose to the connection point. If water runs through the other end, the pipe is okay.
Consider getting a battery-operated back-up sump pump if your pump has been overloaded in the past from heavy rains.
Keep rain gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and other debris. Water overflowing from blocked gutters collects around your home’s foundation and seeps into your basement.
If your home is equipped with a flood control device such as an ejector pump, have it checked by your plumbing contractor to make sure it is working properly before the heavy spring rains.
Here are some basic things homeowners should be aware of around the house. Plumbing plays a big role in our daily lives, and to keep things running smoothly here are a few things we can do to conserve water and go green initiatives:
- I will know where my water shut off valve is located.
- I will scrape all plates in to the garbage before putting in the dishwasher.
- I will not flush anything that does not break down easily.
- I will space showers at least 10 minutes apart to allow for draining ease.
- I will not put anything down the garbage disposal that is not liquid form.
- I will install low-flow toilets to conserve water.
- I will not set up water sprinklers that hit mainly driveway or sidewalk (wasting water).
- I will use leftover water in glasses for watering plants.
- I will look at buying a front loading washing machine which reduces water usage.
These simple measures can go a long way to protecting the environment and wildlife. More green initiatives can be found at Live Smart BC.
If you would like more information, please contact us 604-283-2383.