Home Inspection Articles

Olivia Hunt

Recent Posts

Furnace Efficiency for Homeowners: Think like Home Inspectors

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Dec 20, 2012 3:30:00 PM

Furnace StickerIn recent years there has been quite an emphasis on the benefits “going green” and being energy efficient. As a professional Home Inspection company, we often get questions on furnace efficiency, what it means, and how having an energy efficient furnace can impact one’s home. During a Home Inspection our Home Inspectors will be able to tell you the age and capacity of the furnace, but if you want to be familiar with all the “efficiency” terminology, check out the information below.  

Furnace Efficiency Measurements

There are two efficiency measurements you need to be familiar with when dealing with furnaces: steady state and seasonal.

1)   Steady State Efficiency

Steady state efficiency refers to how much usable heat is created when a furnace is running. For example: conventional gas and oil furnaces have steady state efficiencies of roughly 80%. This means that when the furnace is on, 20% of the heat that is generated goes up the chimney and outside. The remaining 80% is transferred through a component called a heat exchanger, which then travels through the ductwork and ends up coming out of the registers you have in each room.

2)   Seasonal Efficiency

Seasonal efficiency is a bit more complex but refers to the off-cycle losses in addition to the steady state losses. You can think of it as an overall efficiency measurement.  Furnaces are not on all the time – not even in the dead of winter. They cycle on as the thermostat calls for heat, and cycle off again when the thermostat is satisfied. During the start-up and cool down, the furnace doesn’t operate as efficiently thus contributing to off-cycle losses.

In addition, when the furnace isn’t on, the heat from your house escapes up the chimney flue the same way that heat would escape from an unused fireplace, if the damper was left open. This  is also considered an off-cycle loss. If you add these off-cycle losses to the steady state losses you end up with the seasonal efficiency. Seasonal efficiencies for conventional gas and oil furnaces are about 60-65%.


What is the Difference Between Mid & High Efficiency Furnaces?

Mid Efficiency Furnace vs High Efficiency Furnace

  • Seasonal efficiency of about 80%
  • Achieved by minimizing off-cycle losses
  • Mid efficiency gas furnaces don’t have a continuously running pilot – it’s shut off when the furnace is idle
  • Some manufacturers install a motorized damper in the exhaust flue to close it during idle periods to prevent heat escaping up the chimney
  • Can be up to 95% efficient
  • Employs similar techniques to reduce off-cycle losses
  • Improves steady state efficiency – instead of having 1 heat exchanger, most have 2 or 3 that extract more heat from the burning fuel
  • More complex, and thus more expensive


Is a High Efficiency Furnace Right for You?

High efficiency furnaces are complex, and as a result they are often more expensive than conventional furnaces. High efficiency furnaces on average cost about $1000-$1500 more than a conventional furnace. That being said, if you were to spend $1000 heating your house with a conventional furnace, you can save close to $350 with a high efficiency furnace. Over time, these savings will pay for the system itself.

If you’re considering a high efficiency system on a retrofit basis, or as an option in a new home, it is best to speak to a reliable heating contractor to discuss the pros and cons of various models and the estimated increase in furnace maintenance costs. From there you will be able to determine what furnace is best for you.

Carson Dunlop clients are automatically enrolled in our not-for-profit Homeowners Association with access to group savings and discounts. Our Home Inspectors are available for consultation and provide technical advice for as long as the client owns their home. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association has a special relationship with Canadian Tire Home Services and AtlasCare to help clients save money and ensure they have the necessary heating system advice. The CDHA can save clients up to $1000 through our specialized relationships and partnerships. 

Topics: Home Inspection, Homeowners Association, Homeowner Tips

It Pays to Follow @carsondunlop!

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Dec 17, 2012 8:28:00 AM
Follow @carsondunlop
Follow us on Twitter today for your chance to win a free Kobo Mini! For more details and random draw rules, please click here. To receive more exclusive promotions and special offers, subscribe to our blog and check us out on Facebook.

Topics: Home Inspection, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips

Should You Forego a Home Inspection?

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Dec 10, 2012 10:19:00 AM

When the housing market becomes competitive, many forego Home Inspections as a means of gaining an advantage in the bidding process. Others opt out of their Home Inspection clause as a means of saving money.

Not completing a Home Inspection may ultimately put you at a disadvantage and become a costly decision. As noted in the Toronto Star, “…an inspection wasn’t done and the discovery of problems with the roof meant $10,000 in additional costs for the buyer. Given the risk, you might want to ask yourself, ‘Can I afford not to have an inspection?’”* 

A Home Inspection is a Wise Investment for the Following Reasons:

  • A trained individual is performing a comprehensive evaluation of over 400 systems and items in your home
  • It allows you to feel confident in the decisions you’re making in regards to your property, especially during negotiations.
  • A Home Inspection can make you feel more secure about one of the biggest investments of your life.
  • Educates you about your property and how to properly maintain it

Home Inspectors often identify issues that may or may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Carson Dunlop has developed an interactive tool to showcase what our consultants found to help educate our clients about their home. To try out this interactive tool click here.  

Here are some key areas where home inspectors often can help:

Downspout Extension Missing


The Roof

It can be difficult to get onto a roof, and even if you do venture up there, you may not know what to look for. The picture below demonstrates one of the many things Home Inspectors are knowledgeable about: water management. Something as simple as a missing downspout extension can cause major expenses down the road. Excessive water runoff down this portion of the roof will cause premature aging.



Evidence of Roof Leak resized 600


The Attic

Home buyers rarely venture up into this space, but it can be a good indication of issues with insulation, ventilation or further issues related to water damage. A Home Inspector will notice the darker wood and will conclude there is evidence of a leak. Again, this is likely something you would want to know (and the approximate cost of getting it fixed) before purchasing your new home.



The attic and the roof are just two of the areas that a Home Inspector can help with. Home Inspectors may also identify issues with any of these components of a house:

  • Structure
  • Exterior
  • Electrical System
  • Heating and Air Conditioning System
  • Plumbing System
  • Insulation and Vapour Barriers
  • Interior
  • Mechanical and Natural Ventilation Systems

With all your hard-earned money going towards purchasing a home, you want to ensure your investment is a good one. This is where a Home Inspection can help. While a Home Inspection is not a guarantee, it does help to mitigate risk and it also means a pair of trained eyes will take a closer and more analytical look at your future home. 

Want to learn more? Real Estate Council of Ontario has a great video, entitled “Do you know what you are buying?” that you can view here.



*SOURCE: Toronto Star, Joe Richer - http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2012/11/16/skip_home_inspection_at_your_own_peril.html

Topics: Home Inspection, Homeowner Tips

New Specialty Services Program Launched

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Dec 6, 2012 2:41:00 PM

Save TimeWith over 35 years in the Home Inspection industry, at Carson Dunlop we recognize that when it comes to real estate transactions time is a valuable commodity. With extended service hours, online booking and weekend availability, we aim to help save our clients and real estate partners time throughout the Home Inspection process. The launch of our Specialty Services program means we’re able to save clients and real estate partners even more time. The ability to provide access to a wide spectrum of services with a single phone call is something we are pleased to be able to offer. Now our clients are able to seamlessly book a Specialty Service with ease and save themselves the headache of trying to find a quality specialty service provider.

Carson Dunlop has partnered with a number of reputable and qualified companies to provide Specialty Services to our clients as a means of facilitating requests or concerns that fall outside the scope of a Home Inspection. The Specialty Services program is launching with the following services:

  • Asbestos Assessments
  • Indoor Air Quality Assessments
  • Mold Inspections
  • Pool Inspections
  • Sewer Camera Inspections
  • Septic Tank Evaluations
  • Water Quality Evaluations
  • Termite Inspections
  • Thermal Imaging
  • Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) Inspections

The program will make adding these services during or after a Home Inspection simple, fast and easy. Carson Dunlop client care consultants will manage the booking, co-ordination and payments of these Specialty Services to help set a new service standard in the Home Inspection industry.

If you’re interested in our Specialty Services program, please visit our Specialty Services page. You can also call 800.268.7070 to speak to a client care consultant.

Topics: Home Inspection, Carson Dunlop, Specialty Services

Is a Home Inspection Career Right for You?

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 30, 2012 3:17:00 PM


Have you considered a career in Home Inspection? Home Inspection is a relatively young, but growing profession. The Home Inspection industry has a very positive future with the steady growth of consumer demand, opportunity to add ancillary products and services, as well as diversification opportunities in a profession that will see more than 15% of its current practitioners retire in the next 10 years. 

This exciting industry is filled with opportunities for new entrants. Home Inspectors share many common traits that include:

  • A technical mindset
  • A desire to work with new people every day
  • A passion for homes
  • A natural independence

Becoming a Home Inspector gives you the option of managing your own business. By running your own business you not only have the satisfaction of creating something that is truly yours, there is also the bonus of being the ultimate decision maker in your work life – no more bosses or coworkers to be held accountable to. 

Did you know that 76.4% of Home Inspection businesses are individually owned, run and operated?

Some of the other benefits of owning your own practice include:

Income The ability to control your income
TaxAdvantages The tax advantages associated with self-employment
SetYourSchedule The means of setting your own schedule
WorkFromHome The flexibility of working from home

Home Inspection is a valuable and rewarding consulting practice and definintely worth considering. Learn more about Home Inspection and the benefits of self-employment by downloading our free Educational Program Catalogue or joining one of our free weekly webinars.

Topics: Home Inspection, Carson Dunlop, Home Inspection Training

Fireplaces - The Magic and The Mystery

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 23, 2012 12:17:00 PM

Blocked ChimneyWhile fireplaces are no longer used as the primary source for heating homes, there are few things nicer than a cheery fire - especially on a cold winter night. By the same token, there are few things more distressing than a fireplace which doesn’t draw smoky air up into the chimney:  belching smoke into the home, chasing people out, setting off smoke detectors, and covering your house in dirt.

So why do some fireplaces draw perfectly, and others so poorly? Usually it comes down to the design of the fireplace. For our technical picture of basic masonry chimney and fireplace components, click here. Some of the factors which affect fireplace performance include:

1) Ratio of the Fireplace Opening to Chimney Flue Size

The area of the flue should be roughly 1/12th the size of the opening area. If the flue is too small, the fireplace will smoke.

2) Chimney Height

In this case, the taller the chimney the better – chimneys that are too short will cause draw issues.  A good guideline to follow is to have your chimney at least 3 feet above the roof and 2 feet higher than anything within 10 feet of it.

3) Damper Size and Location

It’s important to ensure that your damper isn’t too small, too low or too far back. It should be the full width of the firebox and at least 6 inches above the top of the opening. The damper is usually closer to the front of the fireplace than the back.

4) Smoke Chamber Slope and Smoothness

The smoke chamber above the damper should be as smooth as possible, and should slope no more than 45o as it funnels the smoke from the damper opening into the chimney.

While most fireplaces break at least some of the rules of good design, many tend to work well despite this. Fireplace design is more of an art than a science. As there are so many factors which affect the draw, it is impossible to know how “perfect” the unit has to be in order to work properly. If you’re having issues with your fireplace not drawing well, consider some of the following solutions:

Reduce the Opening Size – This can be achieved by laying an additional row of firebrick on the floor of the firebox. Before you start laying brick, you can test the solution by holding a piece of metal over part of the opening and watching to see if the draft improves.

Extend the Chimney – This is expensive but often successful. Less expensive alternatives include a rain cap or a metal draft hood which rotates with the wind so that smoke is always released downwind.

Verify the Chimney is Unobstructed – Sometimes unwanted guests can make their home in your chimney. Verify that the flue is unobstructed all the way up. Occasionally, this can be done from below with a mirror when the damper is open. Otherwise, a top down look may be required. (A specialist may be required for this review).

Move the Fire Back – Oftentimes, the fire is simply too close to the front of the firebox and needs to be moved back. Unfortunately, if the fireplace is too shallow to permit this, the fireplace may have to be rebuilt.

Add Air – A fireplace which is starved for air won’t work properly. Sometimes opening a window in the room with the fireplace will supply enough air. Fireplace draw is more difficult to achieve if the house is under negative pressure. Negative pressure occurs when the air pressure in the house is less than the air pressure outside the house.  Don’t have exhaust fans on or your clothes dryer running while trying to start a fire. This is particularly true for newer, tighter houses.  You will also find it’s easier to start a fire when the furnace is in an off cycle. In addition, glass doors help to protect the fireplace from negative pressure effects in the house, especially if combustion air can be brought in from outside.

Warm the Flue – This is a trick most people know about. Pushing a burning piece of rolled-up newspaper up past the damper will help overcome the column of cold air in the chimney and allow a good draft to be established quickly.

Damper or smoke chamber modifications are possible but should be considered last resorts, especially as they are expensive. If you’ve worked through this list of solutions and still find yourself with fireplace issues, it’s time to call a specialist as more extensive work may be required.

If you want to learn more about your home and enjoyed these tips, order a copy of the Home Reference Book or subscribe to our blog. You can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

Topics: Home Reference Book, Homeowner Tips

Radon - What Is It and How Do I Test For It?

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 22, 2012 3:10:00 PM


The presence of radon in Canadian homes has become a popular topic in the news lately. Health Canada has recently completed a two-year study that discovered roughly 7% of Canadians, or 1 in 14 people, are living in homes with radon levels above the national guideline.* While this statistic is significant, the good news is that homes can be easily tested and high radon levels can be addressed relatively inexpensively.

What Is Radon?

Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It is created by the decay of uranium. Areas subject to above acceptable levels of radon gas exhibit high concentrations of uranium in the earth and have cracks or porous soils through which the gas can migrate up to the surface.

Why Is It Dangerous?

The radon gas itself is not necessarily an issue - its decay products are. These products are radioactive particles that can attach themselves to lung tissue when radon gas is inhaled, which may in turn cause lung cancer. Health Canada estimates that 16% of all lung cancer deaths in Canada are related to radon exposure.* Just like cigarette smoke, the risk is higher with greater exposure and the effects are long term rather than immediate.

How Does Radon Get Into Your Home?

Radon makes its way into buildings through cracks in basement floors and walls, openings around pipes and electrical services, through water supplies, and basement floor drains, for example.

In buildings, radon gas can get trapped, contributing to potential hazards for occupants. However, when radon escapes directly into the outdoor air it doesn’t pose the same threat as it dilutes quickly.

How To Test For Radon

The identification of radon gas in a home is not part of a standard Home Inspection. However, there are several types of detectors available for testing radon levels. They include:

1)    A charcoal canister that can be used to absorb radon from the air.

2)    Etch detectors that use a sensitive plastic surface. The radon will leave tracks or etchings on the plastic which then can be measured.

3)    Filtering systems where air is pumped through a filter.

4)    Grab sample testers that allow for short term testing by simply taking a sample of air. These tests may require additional laboratory analysis.

How to Lower Radon in Houses

 There are several techniques used to lower radon levels in buildings that include:

  • Sealing cracks, gaps and holes in the basement floor
  • Adding a mechanical ventilation system that draws air and radon from beneath the basement, discharging the air directly to the exterior of the home

Carson Dunlop supports radon testing in homes due to the potential health concerns. We also believe that home buyers should not walk away from a real estate transaction due to a radon issue since this issue can be easily remedied. Radon mitigation systems have been in place for a long time in the United States and their performance is well documented. In many areas, the average installation price is $2500.

If you’re interested in testing your home for radon, visit our page on Specialty Services. For more information on radon, Health Canada is an excellent source as well as the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada


*SOURCE: Health Canada, Cross-Canada Survey of Radon Concentrations in Homes Report

Topics: Home Reference Book, Homeowner Tips

Are You Covered for Water Damage in Your Basement?

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 21, 2012 3:39:00 PM

floodedbasement resized 600Home Inspectors seem to talk about water all the time, and with good reason - water is the biggest enemy of houses. As we've previously discussed, more than 90% of homes will leak at some point. You need all the help you can get to protect yourself against water damage. While preventative measures and maintenance including eavestrough placement and proper grading are important, they may not be enough.

Think about your basement. An unfinished basement is very different than a basement with expensive finishes and furnishings. That being said, very few basements are empty – even if your basement is unfurnished, it’s likely that you’re using it for some capacity of storage. Whatever the state of your basement, when it comes to the potential of water intrusion and damage, its contents are at risk. You should consider how vulnerable your home is:

  • Is the home older or in an older part of the city where sewers carry both storm water and sanitary sewage? New communities have separate storm and sewer systems; a better arrangement. 
  • Is your basement deeper than normal? Where basement floors have been lowered, the home may be more susceptible. 
  • Is it in a low-lying area? Does your area have a history of sewer back-ups? Where sewer back ups are common, many homeowners install backwater valves to prevent water or sewage flowing back into the home through the main drain.

Did you know that many home insurance policies exclude water damage that results from sewer backup or sump pump failure? These are fairly common events, and can result in considerable damage and expense.

Most insurance companies offer this coverage as an endorsement or rider to the main policy. It's often not included or even mentioned when you buy a policy, especially in a competitive situation. Home insurance has become somewhat of a commodity, and people generally shop by price alone. Since endorsements add costs to home insurance, many homes are insured without this important coverage. Worse still, many homeowners are not even aware of this gap in their coverage, or the option of adding the endorsement.

Many policies exclude losses "caused directly or indirectly by any of the following . . . water which backs up through sewers or drains or which overflows from a sump." If your policy has this clause, you are not protected unless you have an endorsement, which typically adds protection against sewer back-ups from municipal systems or septic tanks, water from eavestroughs and downspouts and sump pump failures.

These endorsements may be called Sewer Back Up Coverage, Water Damage Extension or Sewer Back-up/Water Endorsement. Coverage may be subject to a limit, restricting the coverage to a few thousand dollars.

How important is the coverage? According to David Slack from David Slack Insurance Ltd, the average cost of water damage in your basement as a result of sewer backup or sump pump failure is around $25,000 indicating additional coverage may be something worth taking a second look at.

Carson Dunlop clients are automatically enrolled in our not-for-profit Homeowners Association that includes helpful information, free technical advice for as long as you own your home and access to group savings and discounts. The Carson Dunlop Homeowners Association has a special group insurance relationship with David Slack Insurance Brokers Ltd to help clients save money and ensure they have the necessary coverage for their home.

Topics: Homeowners Association, Carson Dunlop, Homeowner Tips

Furnace Humidifiers 101

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 19, 2012 4:04:00 PM

Furnace HumidifierAs the outside air becomes cold and dry, so too does the air inside our homes. So how do we achieve a more comfortable environment? By improving our home’s humidity! Ensuring that you have the right level of humidity in your house can make the cold winter months a lot more comfortable and enjoyable for you and your family. At Carson Dunlop, we are often asked a variety of questions about furnace humidifiers. The most commonly asked questions include:

  •  “Do I need a furnace humidifier?”
  •  “Do I have a furnace humidifier?”
  •  “How do I maintain my humidifier?”

 Do I Need a Humidifier?

If your house is new, you may not have a humidifier. However, you may not need one because the foundation and wood framing are still drying out, releasing moisture into the air. In addition, new houses are “tight”, which means the air within them hangs around for a while before being replaced by dry exterior air. The air is around long enough to pick up moisture from things like showers, cooking, drying clothes and breathing. By comparison, older houses are drafty. Cold, dry air is creeping in all the time, drying out the home as it flushes the warm moist air out.

Do I have a Humidifier in my House Already?

If there is a small box like the one in the picture above hanging from the furnace or ductwork beside the furnace with a small electrical wire and a small water hose attached, you have a humidifier. You may also see a humidistat, a dial that looks like the thermostat but is used to control the humidity level, and is often mounted to the basement ductwork.

The two most common humidifiers include:

1) Drum Type Humidifiers

A drum type humidifier has a tray of water with a sponge, barrel or drum rotating through it. The tray is kept full of water with a float switch, which allows the water from the plumbing system to enter the tray when the water level drops. When the humidistat is turned up or the humidity level drops, a small electric motor rotates the sponge drum through the tray, absorbing water. Some of the air moving through the ductwork blows across the sponge, picking up moisture. This moist air moves through the ducts and into the rooms.

2) Trickle (Cascade) Type Humidifiers

Cascade type humidifiers have no tray of water. A small electric valve at the top controls the water supply to the humidifier. When the humidistat calls for water, the valve opens, trickling water down a honeycomb-like metal pad. Air blows across the pad, picking up moisture. Excess water is drained through a hose to a floor drain, laundry tub, or condensate pump.

How Do I Maintain My Humidifier?

If you have a drum type unit, the tray of sitting water is your nemesis. Ponding water can cause scale build-up and bacterial growth. Every spring, the water supply pipe valve should be turned off, the tray and sponge should be cleaned, and the humidistat should be set to OFF. In the fall, turn on the water valve, and set the humidistat to 35%. We recommend a mid-winter cleaning as well.

If you have a cascade type unit, turn off the water supply and turn the humidistat to OFF in the spring. Before use in the fall, remove and soak the pad in a de-scaling solution. If it is damaged or too clogged to clean, the pad can be replaced. Once the pad is back in place, the water supply pipe valve can be turned back on, and the humidistat set to 35%. This unit will not need cleaning again until next year.

How Much is Too Much?

While an ideal humidity for homes can be as low as 5%, people feel the most comfortable in environments with about 60% humidity. Unfortunately, houses can have a hard time coping with this in cold weather. Too little humidity makes people feel uncomfortable. Too much can cause condensation, mold, mildew, and rot in homes as the warm moist air hits cool surfaces. Contrary to common sense, homeowners actually have to LOWER the humidistat setting as the weather outside gets colder. Why? The colder it is outside, the easier it is for condensation to form on cool surfaces like windows. Homeowners can reduce condensation by lowering the interior humidity level. The recommended house humidity levels are:


 Outside Temperature

 Recommended House Humidity



 -20°F to -10°F


 -10°F to 0°F


 0°F to +10°F


 +10°F and above


 Summer months



Keeping an eye on the amount of condensation on your windows is another great way to gauge your house humidity level. In addition, room temperature and humidity monitors available at hardware and building supply stores can also help you manage humidity.

If you want to learn more about your home and enjoyed these tips, order a copy of the Home Reference Book. You can also receive all the latest updates from Carson Dunlop by subscribing to our blog, following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook.

Topics: Home Reference Book, Homeowner Tips

Carbon Monoxide – Know the Symptoms and Sources

Posted by Olivia Hunt on Nov 5, 2012 4:08:00 PM

carbonmonoxidedectectorCarbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the “Great Imitator” as symptoms of CO poisoning are very similar to the flu. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas making it impossible for a homeowner to detect. CO is a by-product of incomplete combustion such as unburned fuel like gas, oil, wood, etc. Low concentrations of CO can go undetected and can contribute to ongoing, unidentified illnesses. At high concentrations, it can be deadly. Without knowing the symptoms and areas of the house that may be the cause, it poses a dangerous threat to homeowners.

 Why Is It Dangerous?

Air with CO can be very dangerous as it deprives your body of oxygen. When you take a breath of air with CO in it, the oxygen within your bloodstream is displaced with Carbon Monoxide. Depending on the amount of CO in the air, it can result in suffocation.


What Are The Symptoms?

Continued exposure or high concentrations can cause the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Cardiac problems
  • Severe headaches
  • Brain damage
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dizziness
  • Death

Long term exposure to low concentrations can cause the following symptoms:

  • Slight headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath with only moderate exertion
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Who Is At Greater Risk?

  • Senior Citizens
  • Pregnant women and their unborn babies
  • Young Children
  • Individuals with respiratory or coronary problems

Note: Vulnerable people who are exposed even to low levels of CO for long time periods may have similar health affects as those exposed to high concentrations of CO.

What Can Produce CO in Our Homes?

Anything that burns fuel or generates combustion gases can be a source of Carbon Monoxide. This includes: 

1.      Automobile exhaust in attached garages & non-vented fuel burning appliances

Automobile exhaust in attached garages is responsible for 60% of all CO alarms. People who warm up their cars in the garage are trapping CO inside.  When CO collects inside the garage, it can find its way into the home instead of going outside.

Non-vented fuel burning appliances include barbecues or gasoline powered equipment operating in an attached garage, basement, or enclosed area. It’s important to ensure CO isn’t trapped inside an enclosed area.

2.      Gas cooking appliances

Reported to account for 20% of CO alarms, this type of CO may be a result of misused, poorly maintained, poorly installed or unvented cooking appliances such as gas stoves and ovens. When having your furnace or boiler inspected annually, get any gas cooking appliances inspected as well. Often times gas stoves and ovens aren’t properly vented.

3.      Fireplaces and heating stoves

This is one of the most common and serious causes for CO build up and has been reported to account for up to 20% of CO alarms. When fireplaces and wood stoves do not have the proper venting, the CO remains inside the house instead of being safely expelled outside. Venting problems can include blocked chimney flues, inadequate venting as a result of poor installation or poor maintenance.

A leak in a chimney or flue pipe can also cause issues with CO coming back into your home.

4.      Poor combustion at furnace

Inadequate air to your furnace can lead to incomplete combustion which can result in poor efficiency as well as the production of CO gases. If your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, it is possible to get CO into the circulating air. It is imperative that we do not deprive our heating equipment and fuel burning appliances of air; especially in air-tight homes where running exhaust fans can result in a shortage of combustion air. Combustion air is essential for safe operation of furnaces, water heaters, and other fuel burning equipment.

How Can I Guard Against Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

The first line of defense is to have your home heating systems, fuel burning appliances, flues and chimneys checked and/or cleaned annually by a specialist. Specialists should check for:

  • Blocked openings to flues and chimneys
  • Cracked, rusted, or disconnected flue pipes
  • Dirty filters
  • Rusted or cracked heat exchangers
  • Soot or creosote build-up inside fireplaces and chimney flues
  • Exhaust or gas odors
  • Attached garages require gas proofing and automatic closers for doors into the home
  • Adequate combustion air
  • Adequate venting on indoor combustion appliances (i.e-gas stoves)

The second line of defense is a Carbon Monoxide detector.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How Do They Work?

Carbon Monoxide detectors sample the air at specific time intervals. A microchip inside the detector stores the reading and keeps track of the level of CO that the detector is exposed to over time.

Where to Install a Carbon Monoxide detector?

You should usually have one or more Carbon Monoxide detectors in your house but follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. This usually means one per floor. Be sure to maintain and test the detector regularly as instructed by the manufacturer.

If you want to learn more about your home and enjoyed these tips, order a copy of the Home Reference Book. You can also visit the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation as they are an excellent and credible source for information on Carbon Monoxide.

Topics: Home Reference Book, Home Inspection, Homeowner Tips