Carbon monoxide (CO) is often called the silent killer because it is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, making this toxic gas one of the most overlooked dangers in homes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that annually close to 450 people die and 20,000 people are admitted to the emergency room as a result of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Both numbers spike during winter months when heating systems are working overtime.
Carbon monoxide is produced by gas, oil, coal, charcoal, and wood fuels that have burned incompletely. Carbon monoxide is more common among older furnaces as well as full HVAC systems and gas water heaters that have not been properly vented. Electric furnaces, electric water heaters, electric ovens, and all other electrically powered devices operating normally do not produce carbon monoxide.