Does Space Heater Produce Carbon Monoxide?

Does Space Heater Produce Carbon Monoxide? Is this question stopping you from purchasing a space heater? Stay with us to learn more. We can stay consistently warm throughout the night because of space heaters’ ability to concentrate heat in a tiny, specific room region. Space heaters’ risks to your health are a topic of much discussion. Some individuals think space heaters should never be used since they are a significant source of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Combustible fuel and interior air are used in the heating process of an unvented space heater. Instead of venting its gasses outside, it does so within the room. When a space heater is installed incorrectly or malfunctions, it can release toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide and deplete the air’s oxygen supply.

As the oxygen level in the room drops below a certain level, newer models have oxygen sensors that turn off the heater. This safety feature is absent from earlier models.

Does Space Heater Produce Carbon Monoxide?

A space heater that is not installed right or not working properly can release carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes into the room and use up much of the oxygen in the room.

The only heaters that can build up carbon monoxide in your house are those that burn combustible fuel to produce heat. An electrical heater generates heat by passing electricity through metal or ceramic heating elements. Carbon monoxide poisoning is not concerned with some space heaters because nothing is burned to produce heat.

There are several reasons why people are concerned about fire safety and carbon monoxide poisoning when it comes to winter heating. Because the gas has no odor, color, or flavor, carbon monoxide poisoning, or CO poisoning for short, is frequently referred to as a “silent killer” because it can accumulate in your home without giving off any symptoms. 

When it does, you can feel tired and faint before you realize what’s happening; if you become paralyzed, you risk death if you aren’t taken immediately to a location with fresh oxygen. Similarly, introducing a fire risk into your living space or bedroom can bring to mind five-alarm fires you’ve seen on the local news.

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All of that is frightening information, but it’s crucial to carefully assess your risk before deciding whether or not your space heater is safe. Now that we know the truth about space heater safety for your home let’s dispel some myths.

What Kind Of Space Heater Produces Carbon Monoxide?

Any fuel-burning heater can produce carbon monoxide. When fuel is burned, this molecule is produced during the combustion process, specifically when incomplete combustion results in the gas remaining as a waste product. This typically occurs in enclosed environments with little to no open air or oxygen, such as a furnace, as opposed to an open bonfire.

The following are some examples of heaters that can emit carbon monoxide: 

  • Gas heaters, whether they run on natural gas or propane
  • Krypton heaters
  • a wood stove
  • fireplaces, whether they are gas or wood-burning

Carbon monoxide can also be produced by other fuel-burning devices that use fossil fuels. A few of these are:

  • water heaters without electricity
  • a gas oven or range
  • other gas-powered appliances, like a clothes dryer or a grill
  • grills using coal
  • furnaces that use gas, propane, or oil.

As long as installed and vented appropriately to maintain indoor air quality, gas space heaters and the other helpful devices described here are safe. This is why, if you lose power in the winter, you should never use a gas stove or charcoal grill as a temporary heat source: In your home, unvented CO gas can quickly build to dangerous concentrations and cause CO poisoning.

How Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Treated?

Keep your cool but move swiftly if your child or other family members exhibit any signs of CO poisoning:

  • Get out of there and into some fresh air now. If you can quickly and safely turn off the carbon monoxide source without putting anybody else or yourself in danger, do so.
  • Dial 911 or the emergency medical services in your area (EMS).
  • If someone isn’t breathing, get them some fresh air, start CPR immediately, and keep going until they can live on their own or someone else can take over. Have someone immediately dial 911 if you can. If you are by yourself, perform CPR for two minutes before dialing 911.

Your healthcare professional will decide the next course of action for treating carbon monoxide exposure. Oxygen therapy may be used in emergency medical care.

What Pollutants Are Released Into A Room When An Unvented Space Heater Is Used?

When gas burns, the primary combustion products produced are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2), a non-toxic gas, is produced when carbon-based fuels are completely burned.
  • The deadly gas carbon monoxide (CO) is produced if incomplete combustion occurs.
  • Toxic gas nitrogen dioxide  
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How About The Dangers Of Carbon Monoxide?  

CO is a poison that is tasteless, odorless, colorless, and non-irritating. It is extremely toxic and can result in organ and brain damage and death. CO poisons more people than all other poisons combined. 

Gas heaters emit less carbon monoxide when maintained and set appropriately. Utilizing Oxygen Depletion Sensors, one factor that contributes to carbon monoxide poisoning from unvented heaters—incomplete combustion brought on by a lack of air—has been practically removed in more recent heaters (ODS). 

Unfortunately, the ODS is unresponsive to incomplete combustion brought on by poor gas pressure, debris, rust, dust on the burner, improper sizing of fake logs in a gas fireplace, or air currents that disrupt the burner. Unvented heaters continue to pose a risk of CO poisoning.

Can The Health Hazards Of An Unvented Space Heater Be Reduced?

The best way to lessen the risks is to stop using the unvented heater and switch to vented gas or electric heaters instead. The following recommendations are made where the use of unvented gas appliances is allowed:

  • Use only approved ODS-piloted gas heaters.
  • Carefully adhere to all operating and maintenance directions.
  • Every year, or more frequently as instructed in the owner’s manual, clean the burner.
  • Never use a heater that is too large. By correctly sizing the heaters, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) advises reducing the number of emissions. The largest heater that should be used in a small 10 × 20 foot room in Iowa is one that produces 3840 Btu/hr.
  • Never work for longer than four hours straight. The purpose of unvented gas heaters is
  • Do not use unvented heaters in bathrooms, confined spaces, or bedrooms.
  • As instructed in the owner’s manual, provide sufficient ventilation. An outside air source is probably needed if the home has weather-stripped doors and windows.
  • If the pollutants result in health issues, increase ventilation or stop using unvented heaters.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector that is U-L or IAS listed. Because low concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause health problems, purchase a detector advertised as a “sensitive” detector or one with a digital display.

Precautions For Using Space Heaters

So, the following are some things to bear in mind when installing space heaters:

  • Never let your children or pets loose in the vicinity of any heater. Due to extended heat exposure, the children’s clothing may catch fire.
  • When the heater is on, ensure that at least one person is present to monitor it.
  • Your home and even the office are filled with combustible materials. The heater must be at least three feet away from anything else that could catch fire.
  • Another factor contributing to a house fire caused by these heaters is short-circuiting. Therefore, always connect the space heater directly to a power source. Extension cord use is far less secure.
  • Ensure there is never any water left around the heater—another explanation for short circuits.
  • Your heater must be placed on a solid, level surface. A light push shouldn’t slant to one side or even get smaller.
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Also, choose a space heater with a broad base and wider space when shopping. The heaters that stand upright and have a small base are not very secure or efficient.

Don’t Forget About Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is the best approach to protect your family from the dangers of home heating during the winter. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advises placing linked alarms, which will all sound inside and outside of every bedroom on every floor of your home, and testing them once a month. Working alarms will alert your family to the presence of fire or dangerous gas, giving you valuable time to flee.

According to the NYS OFPC, “Smoke alarms are an essential defensive weapon if a fire develops in your house.” “A room can become completely uninhabitable in minutes, or an entire house could be engulfed in smoke and flames.” In actuality, most persons who perish in flames do so by breathing in harmful fumes from the fire’s smoke, not from heat or flame. And even a single breath or two can be fatal.

A carbon monoxide detector is also necessary since it will warn you if the toxic, tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas is present, which is otherwise impossible to detect. The consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning advance with continued inhalation, according to the NYS OFPC. According to the spokesman, inhalation during a fire dulls the senses and makes it more difficult to react appropriately and take the necessary actions to flee. In enough amounts, it might potentially render a person unconscious.

If you don’t heed the advice of safety precautions, space heaters can provide many risks, particularly if you have young children scurrying around. However, you should be alright using one to heat your home and stay warm throughout the cold months as long as you are careful and observant.

A carbon monoxide detector should therefore be kept within your home. It is unnecessary to install a sensor for an electric space heater because it does not produce carbon monoxide.

Conclusion On Does Space Heater Produce Carbon Monoxide

If there is insufficient oxygen to complete combustion, space heaters that burn fuel may produce carbon monoxide. It is always recommended to vent this type of heater outside. 

You can get a space heater that makes the most sense for your home now that you know the safety requirements for space heaters. These guidelines can help you keep your family warm and safe this winter, whether you select a ceramic heater, an oil-filled radiator, a gas heater, or an electric baseboard.