Carbon Monoxide: Heaven Can Wait!

September 2nd, 2020 | Posted by Jim Davis in Jim Davis | Technical Blogs

Many of us wish to go to heaven when we die but only after a long and hopefully successful life. Hopefully Heaven Can Wait! Unfortunately, for many unsuspecting consumers, a silent and sneaky killer known as Carbon Monoxide (CO)has shortened the waiting period.

Jim Davis of NCI believes heaven can wait  if you handle CO and combustion issues properly.
Jim Davis, Senior Trainer, National Comfort Institute

HVAC contractors are usually the only safety net that consumers have to prevent CO from affecting their lives. Each year contractors should check their clients’ heating equipment to prevent CO poisoning. Yet less than 20% ever do a CO or combustion test as part of their normal service.

You should also check other equipment, including such as water heaters, ovens, gas logs, space heaters.

What about the possibilities of CO infiltration from attached garages, pool or spa heaters, gas or charcoal grills, generators, or gasoline-powered tools outside the building? Heaven Can Wait, but will it?

A UL-listed CO Alarm is not the cure-all to prevent poisoning. It may prevent immediate death, but it will not prevent death from long-term illnesses caused by chronic or low-level CO exposure. A low-level CO monitor is a better choice, but if the equipment above and other possibilities are not checked and corrected, the low-level monitor may become a nuisance that many consumers may disable.

Some time ago, my daughter bought a condo. She asked a heating company to come out and check the furnace. While the contractor was on the job I spoke with him and asked if he did a CO test. He replied that his company doesn’t do CO tests. Then I ask about the gas water heater, which was common-vented with the furnace. Again, he replied that they don’t check water heaters.

“Are you a licensed contractor?” I asked.

Heaven can wait is a song from Meatloaf's iconic Bat Out of Hell album.

“Yes!  I have been in the business for 16 years and my company for 75 years,” he responded.

Yikes! All this time and they still operate like they did 75 years ago! Yes, I have since tested it myself and made some minor adjustments to the furnace and checked the water heater to make sure it was also safe.  Then I gave my daughter a low-level CO monitor.  She had one many years ago when she lived in California and it saved her life from the gas oven in her apartment.    

I made sure Heaven Can Wait for my daughter, but what about the rest of this company’s customers?

It is hard to believe that with all the training available on carbon monoxide safety and the affordability of combustion test equipment today, so many HVAC companies still don’t take advantage of it.  No one, regardless of their years of experience, can be sure a furnace, boiler, water heater, or any other fuel-burning appliance is safe without doing a proper combustion test.

For those who care, Heaven can Wait.  For those that don’t care, Heaven won’t wait.

Jim Davis has a long and storied career in the HVAC Industry. That career began back in 1971 when he went to work for an HVAC contractor (that job lasted for six years), before moving on to work for an HVAC distributor in 1977. That is where he became involved with selling the first digital combustion analyzers. Today is a senior trainer with National Comfort Institute, specializing in combustion analysis and carbon monoxide safety for contractors.

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