Preventing the "silent killer": What you should know about carbo - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Preventing the "silent killer": What you should know about carbon monoxide

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, and it has that name for a reason:  You can't smell, see or taste it. The worst part is you can have no idea you're breathing it in.

Ron Hawkins works as a safety director for a local plumbing company in Spokane and says gas leaks are far too common, especially on older appliances.

"If it's not burning properly, it emits carbon monoxide and it can go up the flume and get inside the house," said Hawkins.

Condensation and soot build up on top of the water heaters are key indicators that your water tank might need to be repaired or replaced. Hawkins suggests homeowners have their water heaters checked at least once per year.

"You should physically go around and visually inspect, making sure everything looks good and looks clean," Hawkins said.

Carbon monoxide can't be detected by merely standing next to the tank. Ron uses a device he calls the sniffer when he is in a confined space. This device measures the oxygen content in the room, carbon monoxide levels, and explosive gasses. When it detects one of those toxic gasses, the alarm sounds telling Ron to get out.

In 2013, Washington State passed a law requiring homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors, but there are some exceptions. Anyone who owns and lives in a single family home that was occupied before July 26th, 2009, are not required to have carbon monoxide detectors until they are sold.

When Ron is installing a new gas appliance, he makes sure everything is covered.

"We are required to offer and install a carbon monoxide detector," he said.

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