Carbon Monoxide

Keep safe from CO.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that can build up when any fuel-burning equipment, such as your furnace, water heater or fireplace, doesn't burn or vent properly. You can't see or smell CO, so it's extremely important to inspect and detect to keep your family safe.

1. Inspect

Schedule an annual inspection of all fuel-burning equipment by a Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) registered heating contractor. Be sure to follow up with any necessary repairs. And check regularly to make sure outside exhaust vents, flues and chimneys are kept clear of ice, nests or build-up.

2. Detect - it's the law

Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless so you're required by law to install and maintain CO alarms. Since the majority of CO deaths occur while families are asleep, alarms must be installed near all sleeping areas.

Know the signs, symptoms and steps.

How to know - and what to do - if there's carbon monoxide in your home. WATCH AND STAY SAFE

How to know - and what to do - if there's carbon monoxide in your home. WATCH AND STAY SAFE

FAQs

What are the signs of a carbon monoxide build-up?

  • Stuffy, stale or smelly air (e.g. the smell of something over-heating or burning)
  • Dripping water condensation on your windows (a reliable sign if you've already taken steps to reduce moisture production; it could also mean your humidifier is set too high)
  • Backdraft or soot from a fireplace, chimney or other fuel burning equipment
  • A yellow burner flame, instead of the normal clear blue flame (does not apply to natural gas fireplaces that are designed with a pleasing yellow flame)
  • A pilot light that keeps going out, or the smell of unusual gases in your home: even though carbon monoxide is odourless, it is sometimes accompanied by odour-bearing exhaust gases

If you detect any of these signs, turn off the equipment and contact a TSSA registered heating contractor.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

If CO is inhaled, it depletes the amount of oxygen in your red blood cells, resulting in specific symptoms. Depending on the amount inhaled and the length of exposure, symptoms may include the following:

  • Low concentration - Slight headache and/or shortage of breath during moderate physical activity
  • Higher concentration - Severe headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, weakness, vision and hearing impairment, collapse or fainting during exertion, loss of muscle control and/or drowsiness
  • Extreme concentration - Unconsciousness, brain damage or death

What should I do if I suspect carbon monoxide in my home?

If your CO alarm sounds and there are no medical symptoms:

  • Open all doors and windows
  • Call a Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) registered heating contractor for an inspection (there will be a charge for this inspection)
  • Contractor registration can be verified by calling the TSSA at 1-877-682-TSSA (8772)

If you suspect CO in your home and there are medical symptoms:

  • Call 911
  • Ensure all people and pets leave the home
  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Call Union Gas (1-877-969-0999) or a TSSA registered heating contractor for an inspection (there will be a charge for this inspection)
  • Contractor registration can be verified by calling the TSSA at 1-877-682-TSSA (8772)