Researchers Prove Carbon Monoxide Can Seep Through Drywall
About 400 Americans die every year from exposure to deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas in their homes. Until recently, it’s been assumed that the primary sources of CO in the home were defective stoves, gas-fired furnaces with a cracked heat exchanger and other indoor combustion origins.
However, recent research shows that outdoor sources of CO gas can infiltrate certain building materials, even when doors and windows are shut. Drywall sheets, known as gypsum, are a staple of residential construction to form wall partitions. When installed correctly, drywall seems dense and impenetrable.
However, research shows that this common construction material does not effectively shut out tiny CO gas molecules. The gypsum material found in drywall contains microscopic pores. The average size of each pore is up to one million times larger than carbon monoxide molecules. Under the right conditions, CO gas from outdoor sources may flow through these pores and infiltrate your home’s interior space.
In laboratory tests, carbon monoxide gas infused through drywall reached fatal indoor concentrations in as little as 17 minutes. While sheets of painted drywall slowed the infiltration process—as did double sheets of drywall—CO gas was still able to infiltrate the home. To protect against CO poisoning, you should consider the following suggestions:
- Every home should have a carbon monoxide detector outside every sleeping area. Make sure you test these units per manufacturer’s instructions twice a year.
- Homes with an attached garage separated by a wall of gypsum, should never house running automobiles, lawn mowers, electrical generators or other internal combustion engine without adequate ventilation. Always leave your garage door open when operating these devices.
- Have your HVAC system checked annually to ensure proper air balance in your home. Depressurization caused by leaky ducts or other malfunctions may suck outdoor fumes in through cracks, gaps and drywall materials.
At Sobieski Services, Inc., our goal is to help our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey learn more about energy and home comfort issues – especially HVAC and plumbing issues – so that they can save money and live in healthier, more comfortable homes.
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