Wisconsin Public Service is warning homeowners of potential dangers that can occur this time of year when snow builds up around outside vents.
WPS says, customers with high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters that vent through the wall can become blocked, causing the heating system to malfunction by shutting off or, in extreme cases, lead to an accumulation of carbon monoxide in the home.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, odorless, undetectable poisonous gas that cannot be detected by human senses. Dubbed the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide claims more than 2,000 lives each year and sends more than 40,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. alone. At high concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. CO results when there is an improper and/or inefficient burning of natural gas, fuel oil, or propane for home heating. Customers who experience flu-like symptoms only when at home should arrange for a carbon monoxide check from their local emergency agency immediately. Customers who aren’t already using a carbon monoxide detector should strongly consider purchasing one, said WPS officials.
WPS is also asking customers to be wary of the condition of gas meters. Snow and ice buildup around gas meters, could lead to meter damage and a disruption in energy service. In particular, homes and businesses that have snow plowed from driveways, parking lots or access roads, should take care that plow operators do not push wet, heavy snow into gas meters. The meters could become damaged causing service interruptions or, potentially, a natural gas leak.