Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

HVAC School - For Techs, By Techs

Dec 29, 2022

David Richardson from NCI returns to the podcast to talk about why CO (carbon monoxide) doesn't leak and what it does instead.

CO is a highly dangerous gas that is colorless and odorless, and we can keep ourselves safe by staying aware of it with personal low-level CO monitors. However, CO doesn't leak; it spills, especially via backdrafting, a blocked flue, or updrafting. Whenever the flue gas comes back inside the structure unintentionally, there is room for a potential CO problem. With proper testing, we can determine the cause of that spillage and make the best choice to stop it from happening.

When there is an excessive draft, there's often turbulence in the draft hoods, which leads to spillage. Spillage commonly happens at the draft hood, but it can also happen near the burner compartment of a gas appliance. Smoke tests won't detect that, but CO testing will. However, we need to look for rising CO levels over the run cycle of the equipment. If you test CO levels in the ducts, you're only seeing how the fans are distributing the CO; you're not checking the likely source of CO. Water heaters often give visual clues of improper venting, especially if there's soot, rust near the venting, or discoloration near the burner compartment.

David and Bryan also cover:

  • CO poisoning symptoms
  • CO monitors vs. alarms
  • The roles of stack effect and airflow in CO spillage
  • Air taking the path of least resistance
  • CO testing best practices
  • CO and changes in sinus pressure
  • Combustible gas leak detectors
  • Low-level CO monitors
  • Wind and its effects on pressurization or depressurization
  • Electric appliances, generators, and CO poisoning


Learn more about NCI's training courses at You can also contact David directly at

If you have an iPhone, subscribe to the podcast HERE, and if you have an Android phone, subscribe HERE.

Check out our handy calculators HERE.