Gas Stove Top
November 11, 2015

Here at the Clark household we recently had a debate about running the kitchen exhaust fan while cooking. Chef Haley (my wife) hates the sound of the fan so she prefers not to run it. But the smell of the gas range burning has me concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning.

We have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm that never goes off, so you might ask why I’m concerned. Here’s why: The CO alarm was not good enough quality for me to be 100% satisfied we weren’t getting low-level CO exposure. CO alarms only detect sudden and deadly levels of CO, not low and ongoing levels that create significant health risks in a home.

The Health Risks of Low-Level Carbon Monoxide Exposure

CO enters the body just like oxygen but once it is in our bloodstream it attaches to our hemoglobin and prevents us from processing oxygen. Death from CO poisoning is essentially suffocating from lack of oxygen. Long-term exposure, on the other hand, leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, and even depression. Low-level CO sickness can make you sleepy, and prolonged low-level exposure can lead to flu-like symptoms. These symptoms are often misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome.

One Kentucky hospital reported that patients coming into the emergency room with flu-like symptoms were given blood tests, and about 25% were found to have CO poisoning.

So in my opinion any CO exposure is a bad thing. I mean, how much poison is acceptable to you? With all this in mind, I conducted a few experiments in our kitchen.

First, I needed the right type of equipment to monitor CO levels.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms vs. Carbon Monoxide Detectors

In the late 1990s manufacturers changed the definition of a CO detector to CO alarm because technically most don’t detect. They only sound an alarm if deadly levels are present for an extended period of time. At least one major brand only alarms after 30 days of high CO levels. That would be like a smoke alarm only going off after your house was burned to the ground.

CO levels are measured in parts per million, or PPM, and according to the EPA we start getting low-level CO sickness at 10 PPM. Most alarms do not go off until they reach 70 PPM.

For my home monitoring experiment, I bought a very sensitive CO meter and set it up in our kitchen. CO has the same approximate weight as our air, so it does not rise or fall. I placed my meter on the kitchen counter about 10 feet away from our gas range. I started by verifying that there was no CO present in the house prior to turning on the range.

Next I cooked a pot of my famous chili, which requires about 30 minutes of burner runtime on high and about an hour of burner runtime on low. My CO meter quickly jumped to 17 PPM and stayed there the entire time the range was burning. It took 4 hours for the meter to show no signs of CO in our kitchen once the burner was turned off.


Remember, this was a test with just one burner burning and most of its time was all the way down on low flame. Since only 10 PPM is enough to make us sick, 17 PPM for 5-6 hours is more exposure than I want – especially for my young kids.

After running the test with multiple burners for an extended period of time I saw results as high as 50 PPM. Considering my brand new, high-efficiency range was putting off this high CO level, I started thinking about all my customers out there. Many of them have older ranges and are cooking big meals this holiday season. The CO poisoning risks are significant!

With cold weather coming we are all buttoning up our houses. If you are concerned about your family’s indoor air quality we can install a low-level CO monitor with digital display for only $259. Oh, and make sure you run that range exhaust.

Contact Synergy Home to ensure your family's safety this holiday season


Subscribe to our blog

What Our Customers Are Saying

  • Jamie is brilliant and a huge supporter of energy conservation. He helps a lot of people in our area with simple, low-tech ideas to save money and be warmer in winter. As for geothermal, he is the best.

    Anonymous, Lexington, KY
  • Jamie at Synergy Home was absolutely wonderful to work with on my 180-year-old house remodel. This was a very challenging house project because this old house never had air conditioning. The crew was extremely knowledgeable. They solved the problem of where to route the lines and chose the... Read More

    Heather A., Lexington, KY
  • I applaud all businesses that apply technologies that save money for consumers and the environment.

    Barbara K., Lexington, KY
  • As a Lexington builder I have worked with Jamie for many years and have moved with him whenever he took a position with a new company. He has a better grasp in product systems and knowledge than any other professional HVAC guy in Lexington.


    Wayne H., Lexington, KY
  • Jamie's solar background and his ability to offer expertise on integrated systems give him a decided edge over all his competitors. He is a man of his word and has always honored his commitments.

    Wayne H., Lexington, KY
  • Lexington friends: If you need HVAC installation or repair, this is the place! Jamie Clark is an expert in efficient HVAC systems, and he finally owns his own company, Synergy Home. His opinion and his price are always the best. 

    Melinda W., Lexington, KY
  • There aren't many people in this industry that is more knowledge than Jamie. He has a passion for being on top of his game and being educated on the new areas of his industry. When I bought my house, he was the first one I called to come give me an analysis.

    Nick R., Lexington, KY
  • Here is what I got to say about Synergy services:

    Synergy is a great way to approach energy use and management. Jamie is a trustworthy contractor who will give the clients a thorough assessment of their home. Then, he will offer a few scenarios of how to best reduce the energy that goes... Read More

    Barbara S., Lexington, KY
  • Jamie came up with a unique solution to the problems we were having in our 100 year old home... I bought a house that I completely renovated, however, the airflow throughout still wasn't what it should've been. I've been a long-time customer of Jamie'... Read More

    Catherine N, Lexington
  • The service from Synergy Home was top notch. Their tech was extremely nice and personable. He fixed my AC unit and I had full confidence in everything he did!

    Geraldine J, Lexington
  • Thankful for Synergy

    You & your Crew have expanded our list for those of whom we are "Thankful"! We appreciate the hustle to bring the warmth --as will all those who be in the 'Gathering' here tomorrow --some of whom are already beginning to arrive for the occasion. So, again THANKS MUCH!!

    A Happy Customer, Lexington, KY
October 25, 2018

Sophomoric humor aside, houses that “breathe” through air leaks really do suck — they suck air from all the wrong places. We call this uncontrolled or unintentional ventilation, also known as infiltration.

The Dangers of Uncontrolled Ventilation

Uncontrolled ventilation simply means that your house is “breathing” from the worst possible places, such as your attic or crawlspace...

Read more
November 8, 2017

This is a conversation about gas furnaces, so if you have an all-electric heat pump or some other heat source then this article is not for you, but please check back soon since we will be writing about other forms of heating in the coming weeks.

Types of gas furnaces...

Read more