CO Poisoning: Why Maintaining Your Appliances Can Save Your Life

CO Poisoning: Why Maintaining Your Appliances Can Save Your Life You may not think much of a furnace that groans or occasionally belches some exhaust, but what if it's leaking extremely toxic gas that you can't see, smell, or taste into your house? It's possible, and you should beware. Carbon monoxide (CO) gas comes from combustion (burning) and is responsible for the most poisonings each year worldwide. Exposure to CO causes poisoning that overwhelms the body with vague symptoms and shuts it down. Fortunately, CO poisoning is easy to prevent when you know what CO is, where it originates, and how to prevent it.

You mean, my water heater is dangerous?

All fuel-burning or gas-powered appliances have the potential to be. Appliances like furnaces, boilers, dryers, stoves, ovens, and fireplaces cause most household CO poisonings. These devices use combustion, of which CO is a byproduct. Maintained appliances generally produce very little CO, but malfunctioning appliances can produce exponentially more. A myriad of malfunctions can make an appliance unsafe. Lack of oxygen disrupts pilot lights and burners, straining the combustion process and emitting more CO. Corrosion and rust create leaks in exhaust systems, letting CO concentrations seep unnoticed into residences. Chimney obstructions like animal nests prevent fireplace smoke from exiting, or "backdrafting" from differential pressure actually sweeps poisonous fumes down the chimney back into the house. The number of potential fuel-burning appliance malfunctions are too numerous for the average homeowner to deal with alone. When it comes to CO, call in the experts.

What can I do to prevent CO poisoning from my appliances?

Get a qualified professional to install any new appliances, and get all fuel-burning appliances inspected and maintained annually. Get your fireplace cleaned and serviced annually by a specialist as well. You may also ask technicians to "sniff" your premises specifically for lower CO concentrations to ensure you're not in danger of chronic CO exposure. If the thought of CO poisoning suddenly makes your gas-burning appliances less appealing, consider replacing them with electric appliances that emit zero CO. Usurp the element of surprise from the "silent killer" by installing CO detectors in your home: in sleeping and living rooms, in hallways between rooms, and near (but not directly beside) fuel-burning appliances. Remember, a skilled technician can catch appliance and CO problems early. Preventing CO poisoning is always better than treating it, and nearly all CO poisonings are preventable. The threat need not be ever-present if you are vigilant. Here's another great CO prevention guide if you want to know more.

What if I get CO poisoning and it's not my fault?

Sometimes CO poisonings happen to people through no fault of their own. Maybe an appliance's faulty manufacture, a maintenance person botching a repair, or a neglected appliance on another property causes you to get CO poisoning. What then? Our civil justice system exists to get restoration to wrongfully injured parties. CO poisoning can cause lifelong health problems and mountains of medical bills. Though you may walk away from a severe CO poisoning, it may never walk away from you: don't walk away empty-handed. If you have been affected or a loved one has been killed by a CO poisoning, the Wyatt Law Firm will stand by you. Our carbon monoxide lawyers specialize in these types of cases, and we have the experience and expertise needed to litigate them successfully, as evidenced by our track record. Call us today at 210-340-5550 for a free case review, or submit a confidential contact form via our website.

Let us tell your story. Let us fight for you.

For more information about CO poisoning, explore our legal blog.


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). (2018, May 17). Carbon monoxide poisoning. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from

Cunha, J. P. (2018, October 22). 19 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment (M. C. Stöppler, Ed.). Retrieved July 2, 2019, from Hanzlick, M. (2008). Investigating Carbon Monoxide-Related Accidents Involving Gas-Burning Appliances (D. G. Penney, Ed.). In Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (pp. 129-155). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. Unity Home Group. (2019). Carbon Monoxide Safety: How to Protect Your Home, Identify Issues, and Respond to Emergencies. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from


"*" indicates required fields

I have read the disclaimer.**