Easy Ways to Test for Carbon Monoxide in Your Iowa Home

February 5, 2015

In the Des Moines area where many families heat and cook with natural gas, carbon monoxide (CO) is a common threat. While low-level exposure to this colorless, odorless gas may cause only headaches, more severe exposure can lead to unconsciousness and even death. Knowing how to test for carbon monoxide can help keep your whole household safe.

Where to Check for Problems

Among the most common sources of carbon monoxide in your home are furnaces, water heaters, cooking ranges and other appliances that run on natural gas, propane or oil. Kerosene heaters, gas-fueled generators, as well as wood-burning stoves and fireplaces can also produce CO. If you use any of these appliances, test for carbon monoxide once or twice a year, in addition to maintaining your CO detectors.

How to Test for Carbon Monoxide

Pick up a passive CO test kit, also called a CO detector badge, at a home improvement store. When you're ready to perform the test, write the date on the front of the badge. Then, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Next, place the test badge in the area you're concerned may have carbon monoxide. Don't let the badge be exposed to direct sunlight or fumes from chemicals, such as household cleaners. After 15 minutes, check on the badge. Any change in color indicates the presence of carbon monoxide. The darker the color, the more CO is in your air. Because even minor CO exposure can cause health problems, even a slight color change means there's a problem you should address immediately. If the badge doesn't change color, you can leave it up for one to three months, depending on your manufacturer's recommendations, to monitor CO leaks. You can also check for potential carbon monoxide leakage by looking for some telltale signs. These include pilot lights that go out too often, gas burners that produce a yellow flame, soot buildup around your appliances or fireplace and excessive moisture accumulation on your windows, tile walls and other hard surfaces.

For help maintaining your fuel-burning appliances, contact Lozier Heating & Cooling in the Des Moines area. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Credit/Copyright Attribution: "Grzegorz Petrykowski/Shutterstock"