Sunday, November 29, 2009

how was your weekend?

Ours was good. Uneventful...until Friday night that is. The girls were with my sister. Rick was playing video games. Cole was playing with his trains and I was in the kitchen. That's when the alarm went off. I went straight to the alarm panel to see if I could disarm the alarm. Didn't work. Rick went around the house trying to figure out what was going on. He said it was the Carbon Monoxide monitor. But, since we didn't seem to notice a problem, it was probably just a short in the wiring, right?, Then he realized that the CO monitor that was going off was the one located right next to the upstairs furnace. He got a little suspicious and called the Fire Department to see if they could send someone over to check with their more sophisticated monitors. It was funny, I could hear Rick on the phone reassuring the dispatcher that we were all OK and that he was aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. A few minutes later a patrol car turns down the street in front of our house. And drives right past our house. And turns around. And stops at the neighbors house 2 doors down. And then he went to the next door neighbors house, all the time I am standing on the front porch with all of the lights on waving my arms. (We are in good hands here in Mapleton). The 17 year old patrol officer finally finds our house and proceeds to take a body count to determine how many ambulances to dispatch. I repeated assured this 118 pound public servant that the 3 of us now standing on the porch were the only ones home and that we were all awake and alert. No need for an ambulance--or 3. He radios in to dispatch that all occupants were safe and that there was no need for an ambulance. Just then the fire truck shows up. 3 firemen walk up with their equipment and send the police officer on his way. (I'm glad to know that Mapleton is safe with such a veteran police officer patroling the streets!)
So, the fireman comes in with the gauge and gets a reading near the alarm/furnace of 23 ppm. Apparently our monitor that is wired to our alarm system is sensitive to 20 ppm. We opened the windows and turned off the furnace. They went outside to clear out the gauge. When they measured the main floor, it read 8. The alarm went off as the CO dropped below 20. We had to reassure the fire department that we would not stay in the house over night and that we would have the furnace serviced immediately. Great. A holiday/weekend/evening service call. We can't seem to have a crisis at this home until it's at the worst possible time. See this story from a few months ago.
So, after about an hour and a 20 degree temperature drop in the house from having the windows open, the furnace guy comes. Sure enough. The furnace is the problem. As he took the blower apart, it was COVERED with drywall, sheetrock and all sorts of construction junk. He took the blower back to the service shop to clean out the blower. It came back looking brand spanking new. So, we have lived in this house for about 32 months with the furnace/ac blower full of dust, dirt and trash. The furnace is NOT supposed to be used during construction. Hum, I wonder how this happens and who to blame. I'm sure there will be some finger pointing.
So, after about 3 hours, furnace service guy gives us our options:
Keep using the furnace we have because it's now in good working condition.
Replace the furnace and save so much in utilities because of higher efficiency and rebates, that the system replacement would pay for itself in approx. 5 years.

Who knows what we'll do, but furnace service guy is coming back next week to work on the basement furnace.

What we also found out:

Most CO monitors are not that reliable. Many of them are not even sensitive until about 70 to 75 ppm. By that time, you would be symptomatic. You'd probably be on the way to the ER. Rick has already treated several patients with CO poisoning this season. Some BYU students came in recently who had a reading in their apartment of 80. I'm not certain if they had a monitor or if they came it because they were feeling ill. But, Rick assures me that the price we have to pay to the furnace service guy for a holiday/weekend/evening service call will be much less than the cost of 3 (or 4 or 5) of us to visit the ER and take a trip in the hyperbaric (100% oxygen) chamber for several hours apiece.
So, we've done a little research on CO monitors. I would really recommend that all of you have more than 1 in your home. Check them regularly. And spend the money to buy a good one. If you end up needing it, it will save you loads of money in the long run to have monitor that is more sensitive. Also, if you have one, check it out on the internet. Look up the brand. Find out how sensitive it is.

The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu--headache, nausea, shortness of breath. Which sounds similar to the effects of Thanksgiving feasting the day before...

We don't really know how long we have been exposed to the low levels of CO. Maybe since we've been using the furnace since it cooled off this fall. Rick and I have been doing this crazy P90X workout for the past 6 weeks. I've felt so wiped out, but now I'm blaming it on very low CO poisoning. Now that the problem is solved and the air is better in my house, I'll see if my energy level goes up and the workouts get easier. probably not.


Tia and Amara said...

You know what else I heard on an npr podcast that's a symptom? Ghosts. Not you become a ghost, but you see them --a feeling someone is in the room with you, voices, seeing people is a common hallucination for co poisoning. You guys are lucky you had the detector you did. Is there a way for a regular person to check their blower? Our house was built during winter too.

Jess said...

I'm so glad you are all ok. That sounds really scary.

Jess said...

I'm so glad you are all ok. That sounds really scary.

amandajean said...

i'm so glad to hear that you all are ok! how scary that could have been!!!

maddie said...

Thats sounds like it would be so scary.