Homeowners beware: hail damage could increase carbon monoxide dangers

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) As we head into winter, experts are warning you to check your home for carbon monoxide. This year is especially important if you were impacted by this summer's hail storms.

“The large hail beat down vent caps on the roofs ... so instead of your furnace products and your water heater products going out the roof to a safe area, now they’re coming back to your home," said Don Piano with the Pikes Peak Mechanical Contractors Association (PPMCA).

Homeowners across Southern Colorado reached for the thermostat this week and turned on their heaters for the first time in months. PPMCA recommends getting a licensed heating mechanic to check out your furnace once a year - and now is the best time do that.

Licensed mechanics will also check your home for carbon monoxide. Even if you have working carbon monoxide detectors, there could still be low levels of CO in your house. That can be especially dangerous for people with any health problems.

PPMCA recommends the First Alert Digital Display Alarm. Most CO detectors only go off when the gas reaches a high level in your home but this one shows the peak levels of CO. This could help you understand when you should get something checked out.

“Something's happening in there and you want to know, so that will give you a little warning," said Piano.

CO alarms should be in every sleeping area of the house. On top of changing batteries, homeowners should replace them every five to seven years.

Piano says this is such an important topic that often doesn't get the attention it needs.

"Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless. We can’t see it, we can’t feel it. We just get sick and if it gets real bad you go to sleep and you won’t wake up.”

PPMCA and Silver Key are working to make sure the elderly community is protected against carbon monoxide poisoning as well. They provide a program known as "Warm Wheels" to seniors that offers free inspections for anyone who qualifies. Last year they inspected 100 homes of elderly people and replaced five defective furnaces.

PPMCA is an association of plumbing, heating and cooling contractors who get together to teach classes on safety and stay up-to-date with the industry. One of its goals is to get more mechanics aware of carbon monoxide dangers. Through a grant from several agencies including the Pikes Peak Regional Building, PPMCA runs a program to train mechanics. Each year 50 mechanics get training and a carbon monoxide detector at no cost to them.