CPSC Recommends Carbon Monoxide
Alarm for Every Home
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After a recent rash of carbon monoxide poisonings -
including incidents in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey -- the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is repeating its recommendation
that every home should have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. CPSC also urges
consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel- burning appliances
-- including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, water heaters,
and space heaters -- to detect deadly carbon monoxide leaks.
These appliances burn fuels, such as gas, both natural and liquefied
petroleum; kerosene; oil; coal; or wood. Under certain conditions,
fuel-burning appliances can produce deadly CO. However, with proper
installation and maintenance, they are safe to use.
CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any fuel. The initial
symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, and include headache,
fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Exposure to high levels
of CO can cause death.
"CO poisoning associated with using fuel-burning products kills more than
200 people each year," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. (A more recent review claims
CO as the leading cause of more than 15,000 accidental poisoning deaths
in the United States each year and another 10,000 injuries according to the
Carbon Monoxide Medical Association)
CPSC recommends that the yearly professional inspection include checking
chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by creosote and debris.
Leakage through cracks or holes could cause black stains on the outside of
the chimney or flue. These stains can mean that pollutants are leaking into
the house. In addition, have all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers
and other fuel-burning appliances checked to make sure they are not loose or
Make sure your appliances are inspected for adequate ventilation. A supply
of fresh air is important to help carry pollutants up the chimney, stovepipe
or flue, and is necessary for the complete combustion of any fuel. Never
block ventilation air openings.
CPSC recommends that every home should have at least one CO alarm that meets
the requirements of the most recent Underwriters Laboratories 2034
standard (ANSI/UL 2034-02) or International Approval Services 6-96 standard.
Recall Program to Replace Vent Pipes
Consumers should also have the vent pipes on their heating systems
inspected. In 1998, virtually the entire furnace and boiler industry
together with the manufacturers of high-temperature plastic vent (HTPV)
pipes joined with CPSC to announce a vent pipe recall program. The program's
purpose is to replace, free of charge, an estimated 250,000 HTPV pipe
systems attached to gas or propane furnaces or boilers in consumers' homes.
The HTPV pipes could crack or separate at the joints and leak CO.
Consumers can check the vent pipes attached to their natural gas or propane
furnaces or boilers to determine if they are part of this recall. They can
be identified as follows: the vent pipes are plastic; the vent pipes are
colored gray or black; and the vent pipes have the names "Plexvent®," "Plexvent®II"
or "Ultravent®" stamped on the vent pipe or printed on stickers placed on
pieces used to connect the vent pipes together. Consumers should also check
the location of these vent pipes. For furnaces, only HTPV systems that have
vent pipes that go through the sidewalls of structures (horizontal systems)
are subject to this program. For boilers, all HTPV systems are subject to
this program. Other plastic vent pipes, such as white PVC or CPVC, are not
involved in this program.
After checking the vent pipes, consumers should call the recall hotline
toll-free at (800) 758-3688 Monday through Friday from 7 am to 6 pm CST, to
verify that their appliance venting systems are subject to this program.
Consumers with eligible systems will receive new, professionally installed
venting systems free of charge. Additionally, consumers who already have
replaced their HTPV pipe systems may be eligible for reimbursement for some
or all of the replacement costs.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
January 18, 2001
Release # 01-069