carbon monoxide detector

Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers

Carbon monoxide (CO) can’t be seen or smelled. That is why it is often referred to as the silent killer, and kill it does. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 430 people die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States and approximately 50,000 more visit the emergency room because of the deadly gas. These are truly heartbreaking statistics primarily because the important thing to know about CO poisoning is that it is entirely preventable.


Your friends at Mast Heating & Cooling, which has served the Zeeland and Grand Rapids areas’ HVAC needs for more than 50 years, want our customers, neighbors, and friends to know as much as possible about the dangers of carbon monoxide. So please join us in recognizing November as #CarbonMonoxideAwarenessMonth. The following are some important answers to frequently asked questions about CO:

How is carbon monoxide produced?

CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced when various fuels such as coal, wood, propane, natural gas, charcoal and kerosene are not fully combusted.

Can my home appliances produce harmful levels of CO?

Yes. Your furnace and water heater are prime examples of appliances that combust fuel to generate heat. If they are working improperly or not properly vented, they can produce dangerous CO levels. Other machines and equipment that produce CO are grills, portable generators, automobiles and lawn equipment such as mowers and gas-powered tools. Improperly-vented or dirty fireplaces can also produce CO.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

Initial symptoms of CO poisoning are often mistaken for cold or flu symptoms and include: headache, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea. Severe symptoms may include: vomiting, mental confusion, loss of muscle coordination and loss of consciousness.

How can I prevent CO poisoning?

  • First, make sure your home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors in every level of your home and especially in bedrooms and other high-traffic areas. Check the batteries twice per year.
  • Make sure your appliances are properly installed and serviced regularly. Mast Heating & Cooling’s professionally-licensed technicians are happy to perform check-ups and tuneups that will ensure your furnace, water heater, and other fuel-burning equipment is operating correctly. Our checkup will include inspection of burners, blowers and ventilation systems. In addition, do not use gas-burning appliances such as ovens to heat your home.
  • Never operate grills or portable generators indoors in enclosed spaces such as garages.
  • Never leave automobiles running in garages or near open garage doors.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys and flues.


If you suspect dangerous levels of CO have built up in your home, seek fresh air: open windows and doors and leave the home immediately. Then call first responders or utility companies that will perform inspections of your home. One way to make sure your family is not threatened by the silent killer is to schedule a heating system inspection. Call Mast Heating & Cooling today and sleep well at night!