Why doesn't some furnace manufacturer come up with an integral, hard-wired CO detector for all its units?

Sudden thought: Why doesn't some furnace manufacturer come up with an integral, hard-wired carbon monoxide detector for all its units? Your car has a red light that will go on when the car starts to overheat. And another light that will go on if your battery isn't charging, or when the oil pressure is low. Why not a CO detector on all fossil-fuel burning furnaces, boilers, etc.?

There are already such detached units available in the aftermarket for homeowners, you might say. Sadly, they aren't used often enough. And true, a properly maintained heating unit won't give off dangerous levels of CO. But this isn't a perfect world, and we know that all too often dangerous CO rears its ugly head.

News item: A family of five including three young children were killed in a tragic case of carbon-monoxide poisoning earlier this year. The accident took place in a rural Lapeer County, Mich. home involving a propane furnace in the basement of the family's home. According to authorities, the unit appeared to have been moved recently, and there was a quarter-inch gap where the exhaust pipe connects to the furnace. The home had no CO detector.

Yes, CO sources are found elsewhere in the home: in the kitchen, occasionally, from the gas stove, or an unvented space heater or the water heater or from the family car in an attached garage. Ideally, homeowners will continue to buy CO detectors, and place them strategically where they'll do the most good. An integral CO detector with the home's heating system won't solve all problems. But it could be a good start. The good will would be enormous, and they just might save a life.

Until it happens, as a contractor, why not give your customers their very own complimentary CO unit? Build it into your pricing structure, if necessary. Put your company name and phone number on it and consider it a marketing tool. Buy them in bulk so you get the best deal on them; sell them at cost, if need be.

Again, it won't solve all problems or prevent every CO poisoning, but it's a start.

Changing tracks: Former Snips owner-publisher Nick Carter was seen strolling the aisles at the Chicagoland sheet metal show in March to see old friends, dropping by the Snips booth briefly for a visit. A follow-up note said that wholesaler Sid Harvey, Garden City, N.Y., is already planning for the company's 75th anniversary celebration - in 2006. That's one year before Snips also turns 75. Stay tuned¿

Thank you: Snips in March was the recipient of an award for its longstanding support of the Canadian Mechanicals Expo (CMX) trade show in Toronto. It is indeed a good show for us and the many contractors who attend, and we'll continue to offer this show and its organizers our support and best wishes for success.

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