Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - As winter weather approaches, more people are turning on their heaters.

But without proper care and inspections, heaters could lead to problems for homeowners, such as fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

A deadly example, a racing fan at Talladega died over the weekend when he turned on the heater in his RV. The inside filled with carbon monoxide.

"Before you kick it on, you wanna have somebody that you know professional come out and check it and make sure it's safe," Nathan Tompkins with Tompkins Heating and Air said.

Tompkins said a proper inspection takes about 30 minutes. 

"I checked their burners. I checked to make sure they were burning properly, that it was the right color and everything, had the right oxygen. I vacuumed out all the dust and debris that could catch fire. And I checked to make sure all their safety features were operating correctly," Tompkins said. "Most of that stuff is for a trained service technician to come out and he knows everything to do."

However, Tompkins said there are some things homeowners can do. 

"You wanna make sure you have a good carbon monoxide detector, especially if you have gas furnaces or gas heat in your house. Or any gas appliances at all, you wanna have a carbon monoxide detector," Tompkins said.

If the carbon monoxide would leak, homeowners could face a fate similar to the racing fan's at Talladega.  

"It's very rare that they do do that, but they can do that. So as long as you know they can do that, that's the big thing. You wanna have them checked out as far as what you're burning compared to oxygen and making sure it's ventilated out of your house. That's the big issue, getting it out of your house," Tompkins said. 

"The main reason for carbon monoxide is the units get rusted out and they get a hole in the heat chamber and that's where the fumes go. You wanna look and make sure you got a nice, pretty blue flame," Richard Clay, a Kagle's Heat and Air technician, said. 

Tompkins and Clay said homeowners also need to change their air filters once a month.  

"That's the number one cause of all problems in a unit is you don't change your filters. Parts get dirty that ain't supposed to get dirty and they have to work harder to burn stuff out. That's one thing you can do on a regular basis to really help out a lot," Tompkins said.

Changing your filters regularly not only keeps you safe, but also keeps your house clean.

"If you throw it out every month, that's like dusting your house. Eventually, you get to the point where you don't have that much dust. But you have to do that to get it that way," Tompkins said.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.