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Can Electric AC Cause Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas but can AC cause CO in your home?

You can find many appliances in your house that might emit carbon monoxide. This harmful gas can cause damage to vital organs and even death. Thus knowing which devices in your home emit carbon monoxide is crucial.

Electrical air conditioners cannot discharge carbon monoxide. Even though they cannot produce it, they can spread the gas that another device releases. You can always prevent that through regular device maintenance and specific devices that detect harmful gases (i.e., carbon monoxide detectors).

I’ll go into more detail below.

What You Need to Know About CO

Carbon Monoxide is generally known as the “Silent Killer”.

It is created, when there is not enough oxygen in the room, by carbon compound combustion. When oxygen levels are sufficient in a confined space where the combustion is taking place the carbon monoxide turns into carbon dioxide and becomes harmless.

It is an odorless and colorless gas. Its leaks are mostly undetectable, which makes it immensely dangerous.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Even though carbon monoxide is incredibly hard to locate, you can easily tell if someone has been poisoned.

The primary carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Chest pains
  • Abdominal pains
  • Breath shortness
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Other flu-like symptoms

If you find someone that shows the above symptoms, said person needs immediate medical assistance.

If they fail to go to a hospital in time, they might suffer from:

  • Brain damage
  • Lung damage
  • Death

Carbon Monoxide Leaks

All carbon monoxide leaks derive from carbon-using devices.

Said devices burn pieces of coal. They use the thermal energy emitted to transform to other types of energy (i.e., electricity, kinetic, etc.) or to perform other tasks (i.e., heat a space or food). Some examples are:

  • Gas and oven stoves
  • Fireplaces that use wood or gas
  • Water heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Barbecue grills
  • Automobiles
  • Other appliances use wood, charcoal, and fuel to operate.

Although those devices use substances that, when burnt, might exhaust carbon monoxide, they are not always dangerous.

Hazard usually originates from the lack of oxygen while in the burning process.

Regarding the devices that solely produce carbon monoxide, they can be proven dangerous in the following cases:

  • Cracks in furnaces or heat exchangers
  • Improper ventilation
  • Blocked pipes or chimneys
  • Poor exhaust pipe installation.

If one of the above happens, the residents of a building can be prone to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Does an Electric Air Conditioner Cause Carbon Monoxide Emissions?

This is defined as an air conditioning system operated with electricity.

That means that the particular type of heater does not need to use charcoal, wood, or fuel. Thus, they are safe to operate even without the proper exchange of oxygen between the room and its outer environment (i.e., outside of the house or other rooms).

However, they can help spread carbon monoxide emissions throughout the house.

How Can the Air Conditioning System Disseminate Carbon Monoxide

The concept that an air conditioner produces air is in fact a myth. The AC draws into its mechanism the room’s existing air and emits it as hot or cold.

If an appliance is leaking carbon monoxide, the AC pulls along with the “clean” air the carbon monoxide discharges. The air processed inside the system becomes polluted.

It then distributes the polluted air through vents throughout the building.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks

You can always prevent the leakage of carbon monoxide by sticking to a yearly routine.

Regular Maintenace

Carbon monoxide emissions can be spotted with the right equipment.

Many companies offer maintenance services that can spot several types of gas emissions. Such regular device preservations can save you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Professional Services

Additional professional services can spot improper installations or decayings of the mechanisms.

Improper installations can cause a device to wear off and develop gaps, cracks, or holes. Through those breaches, carbon monoxide might exit the mechanisms and spread around the room.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors notify you in case there is a leakage inside the room it is installed.

Ideal spaces include:

  • Bedrooms
  • Living rooms

Their batteries should be replaced annually.

Gass Tools

Tools such as barbecues and space heaters that use charcoal to operate are dangerous to leave inside a confined space.

The safest option is to use said devices only in the garden or other open areas of the residence. In those spaces, the oxygen levels are in abundance, so there is no carbon monoxide production hazard.

The same applies to automobiles.

What Are the Steps If You Suspect a CO Leak

If there is a suspicion of carbon monoxide leakage, you need to take immediate action:

  • Evacuate the building
  • If it is safe, open windows and doors on your way out
  • After the evacuation, call 911 for help.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

Video References

Medical Centric

AFP News Agency

Cincinnati Children’s

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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