Today’s Word is actually two words: Carbon Monoxide. These are two words that no one wants to hear, especially when it involves harm to consumers and to technicians.

Let’s face it, we know that CO-related incidents occur during the fall and winter months when gas-fired appliances run at longer intervals and homes are closed tightly against the cold weather. But CO issues also happen ALL YEAR long.

For example, in July of this year, Fox News reported that 46 people were hospitalized with 15 in critical condition after being exposed to carbon monoxide at a motel in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The local fire and paramedic chief told reporters that a CO alarm went off in the motel’s boiler room and levels in some areas of the building were as high as 385 parts per million. The article reports the chief comparing that to what he called a safe level of between 20 and 30 parts per million (PPM).

A safe level? Really?

It is painfully obvious that even today, knowledge about this deadly gas is still woefully lacking, even among safety professionals. The World Health Organization says that 15 to 20 PPM can cause ill effects on human health. At 27 PPM there is a 21% increase in cardio-respiratory complaints. At 30% you’ll see the earliest onset of angina.

In the world of High-Performance Contracting, HVAC contractors are well trained in how to analyze and understand the combustion process and what happens that can lead to creating CO.

ALL HVAC contractors should be so trained.

Furthermore, ALL public safety officials should be so trained.

When you search the Internet for CO-related news stories, the number you find are overwhelming and the ‘facts’ presented in them are all over the place. Here is the most important fact: NO level of CO from vented combustion appliances is acceptable in the living space.

But we know that CO happens. That’s why knowing how to test for the issue, diagnose the cause, and find the right solutions is so very important.
That begins with education.

In this issue, Tom Johnson of TM Johnson Brothers in Cambridge, MN, dispels seven common consumer myths about carbon monoxide and what it takes to address this potentially deadly issue. You can find his article on page 11 or online at

In addition, Steve Miles, president of Jerry Kelly Heating in St. Charles, MO, shares how his company has become one of the go-to experts in his marketplace when it comes to carbon monoxide. Read about it on page 14 or online at

Finally, this month we examine two CO instruments. David Richardson reviews the Fieldpiece STA2 in-duct hot wire anemometer (page 6) and Jim Davis shares his thoughts on Bacharach’s InTech combustion analyzers (page 7). Online they are at

Yes, the term carbon monoxide is just two words. But they may be the most important two word that can impact your customers.

The question is, are you prepared to defend your customers against them? Are you properly trained?