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Hidden Health Hazards in Your Home: Mold and Carbon Monoxide

I write on a variety of subjects. My passion for writing has not changed no matter what career choices I have made or jobs that I’ve held.

Altered by Sharyn's Slant with permission.

Altered by Sharyn's Slant with permission.

Home Sweet Home: Keeping Your Family Safe

We all have a desire to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Typically, the place that we feel the safest is in our home. It’s important to know about hidden dangers you may find in your home to protect those in it, including your four-legged family members.

There are hazards in your home that can make you sick and even be potentially fatal. Let’s talk about them to be sure this does not happen.

Hidden Dangers You May Find in Your Home and What yo Do About Them

In this article, we will discuss the following potential hidden health hazards in your home and what you should do about them:

  • Toxic Mold
  • Carbon Monoxide
Black mold on a basement wall.

Black mold on a basement wall.

Toxic Mold

Mold can grow extremely quickly wherever there is moisture present in your home. Black mold is dangerous and may cause severe illness. You can get symptoms that are similar to the flu.

Even if you do not visually see mold, you may smell it. Have you noticed a musty odor in your bathroom, closet, basement, attic, or anywhere in your home? It is possible that mold is hidden between the walls, behind tiles, and under floorboards in your home. It can even be on furniture that is exposed to humid conditions.

What to Do to Keep Mold Out of Your Home

  • Fix any plumbing leaks immediately.
  • Use a dehumidifier in areas that are prone to moisture and humidity.
  • Use a fan in the bathroom when you are showering.
  • Keep all the rooms well ventilated.
  • Keep your house gutters clean from dirt, leaves, debris, and ice buildup.
  • Keep your foundation free of water and moisture.
  • Be sure you do not have leaking under roof shingles.

How to Clean Small Outbreaks of Mold

There are commercial products on the market. You can also simply use a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of bleach.

If you have a severe mold problem in your home, please consider hiring a professional mold-cleaning expert.

Wood-burning and gas powered fireplaces are a common source of carbon monoxide.

Wood-burning and gas powered fireplaces are a common source of carbon monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is extremely toxic.

The danger of carbon monoxide is typically found in the form of fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters, water heaters, stoves, and clothes dryers. In addition, exhaust from an automobile, especially in attached garages, can be toxic.

In low levels, this toxic gas can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation

Higher levels of exposure to carbon monoxide can cause:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired vision
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

NOTE: If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get everyone out of the house immediately and contact your local emergency services.

Never run your car in an attached garage EVEN if the doors are open.

Never run your car in an attached garage EVEN if the doors are open.

How to Keep Your Home Free of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Hazards

  • Carbon Monoxide Detector: Be sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector and that it is installed correctly. Test it regularly to be certain it is working properly.
  • Chimney: Be sure that your chimney is clean and free from soot or debris. Use a screencap on top of your chimney to keep birds from nesting and/or leaves from falling in.
  • Fireplace: A fireplace flue damper should always be open when in use. In addition, leave a nearby window open a few inches. This will prevent back drafting and also provide circulation of fresh air.
  • Portable Gas Heaters: Be sure that any space heater you use has a built-in sensor that will shut the appliance down if the oxygen level in the room drops to a certain level. Because these are unvented appliances, it’s a good idea to open a nearby window a few inches for the same reasons stated above for a fireplace.
  • Gas Stove/Oven: Be sure that the stove-top and oven are kept clean. Always check to see that the burners are not clogged. Older appliances should be tested to be sure they are not emitting excessive carbon monoxide. Also, keep in mind that a range-top exhaust fan will not help eliminate carbon monoxide unless it is vented outside.
  • Charcoal and Gas Grills: Never use charcoal or gas grills in your home. Even when used outside, they should be far enough away from your home’s windows. Not only is carbon monoxide produced from a gas grill, but it also is produced in smoldering charcoal embers.
  • Gas Water Heater: If a water heater is not installed or working properly, it can produce carbon monoxide. Always be sure the burner or vents are not blocked. It’s a good idea to have the water heater checked and maintained by a professional.
  • Gas Clothes Dryer: The dryer burner or exhaust pipes that may be clogged with lint or damaged by other means such as flooding can cause a carbon monoxide danger. An easy preventative measure is to always clean the lint filter after every use.
  • Gas Furnace: If a gas furnace has problems with the flue, burner, or pilot light not working properly, or a cracked heat exchanger, carbon monoxide could be released into your home. If the pilot light is a yellow flame, this is an indication that your furnace needs maintenance. Have your furnace inspected annually for regular maintenance to ensure it is working safely and efficiently.
  • Gas Powered Vehicles: Never let your car run idle in an attached garage. When you pull your car into the garage, leave the garage door open for a few minutes before closing it.
  • Over Insulating Your Home: Many people heavily insulate their homes to help keep their energy bills down. But please keep in mind that this cuts the fresh air supply that could increase the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide levels.

Keeping Your Family Healthy and Safe in Your Home

You’ve now learned about two of the most dangerous health risks found in our homes: mold and carbon monoxide.

Educating yourself about the risks and how to prevent any dangers is the first step to keeping yourself and your family safe. Thank you so much for stopping by.

This is Sharyn's Slant

Questions & Answers

Question: Do carbon monoxide alarms detect black mold?

Answer: Not that I know of, although that would be great.


Sasha on August 26, 2018:

Dont have a carbon monoxide alarm in the house sice 2011, since 2013 i got diagnosed with helicobactor and have problems with my stomach and liver constantly feel dizzy and my pets are dogs which one takes fits and their skin is iritared. I recently got a boiler check and have been told we have a high risk of Carbon monoxide and should’ve got it fixed in 2011 nearly 7 years ago

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 07, 2013:

Hi Susan ~ recently someone else was trying to send me something through HP and the same thing happened. Obviously it's a glitch. Thanks for all the info. Have a great night.

Susan Ream from Michigan on February 07, 2013:

Oh dear they ALL went through ... I told you I tried many times. LOL When I tried to send the message the little wheel kept turning and turning as though working on it. I waited and waited but I never got the message it was sent. So I tried again and again. Sorry for the barrage to your mailbox.

Yes my name is Susan. When I first started writing on hubpages I wasn't sure I wanted to use my real name so I chose a pen name, Mekenzie.

I am glad you found the site useful!

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 07, 2013:

Hi Mekenzie ~ well, it did send, every time you tried. lol

I got 4 emails from Mekenzie and 4 from "Susan" - which confused me. I realize they are both you. But is your name Susan?

Anyway, I really appreciate the link. I already added it to this hub above.

Thank YOU!


Susan Ream from Michigan on February 07, 2013:

Sharyn, I found the 'send an email' and tried to send one many times but for some reason it would not send it.

I found your link to twitter and put the info there. :)

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hey Mekenzie ~ it's strange and hard to find cuz it does not make sense where it is located. But you will see the "send an email" tab when you click on Fan Mail on the profile page.

Susan Ream from Michigan on February 06, 2013:

Sharyn, I have looked for personal emails on writers hubs and cannot find them. I figured when hub pages updated their 'look' they removed the link to email the author.

If I'm missing something let me know. Otherwise I could probably leave you some links on your google+ which is displayed on your profile page.

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi thekatydid ~ Definitely, mold can be extremely hazardous. As you describe with a family from your church, it can get so bad that a house actually needs to be demolished. Of course, that is an extreme case but it does happen. And the family members were quite sick from the mold as well. Hopefully more and more people will have a better understanding so that the hazards don't get to be so toxic. I appreciate your feedback. Thank you,


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi Rosika ~ Good thing you got the water line leak fixed quickly. It certainly could lead to mold hazards. We all need to be cautious. Thanks for your feedback and sharing of this important information as well.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 06, 2013:

Hi Mekenzie ~ Thank you so much for sharing your husband's experience as a certified mold inspector where he sees first hand people that are sick from the toxic mold.

As far as educational links, please send them to me through a private message. I'm interested in including them in this article. Your feedback is great and thanks for the votes.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 05, 2013:

Hi Kelley ~ glad you have a CO detector. You are welcome for the reminder to check it to make sure it is working properly. Thanks for your feedback!


Kay Comer from Metropolis, Illinois on February 05, 2013:

Very interesting and informative hub, Sharyn. We had a family in our church that had black mold in their home. It was so rampid by the time they found the problem, after each of them were having one health problem after the other and sometimes even ending up in the hospital, that their home was finally torn down and they rebuilt. Black mold can be a very serious thing and so many aren't aware of the dangers. Thanks so much for your hub!

rosika on February 04, 2013:

very useful hub sharyn, mold are obviously hazardous.......Just until about a month ago, and about 2-3 months later after buying a house we realize one of the water line in our house was leaking ...I was worried that gradually there will be growth of mold and soon our house will start to smell horrible, so I called the plumber hastily as I had heard all the stories about mold hazards. Luckily, it was a very quick fix and I am at peace now.

I will share it with my friends, voted up!

Susan Ream from Michigan on February 04, 2013:

Great Article Sharyn! My husband is a certified mold inspector and assessor. He has met with many many people who are deathly sick from toxic mold.

Interestingly a home filled with bacteria or high yeast counts can also be plagued by mysterious illnesses.

I'm glad you are getting the word out there. I would put some educational links in here to add to your hub but I don't think we can do that.

Voted up and USEFUL!


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Yvonne ~ Sorry you have a constant battle with black mold. That really sucks. Definitely see if dehumidifiers will help and good luck. I appreciate you stopping by.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Mary ~ yes, definitely, these two very common hazards are overlooked way too often. I agree and hope that many new homeowners, especially, gain a better understanding of what could happen. Thanks for your votes and feedback.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Kelly ~ I'm sure there are many people that are paranoid about these hazards. Having the chimney swept every year is a good precaution. And all the detectors and alarm you mention are very important too. I'm sure your family feels safe because you are taking these precautions. Thank you so much for sharing this article.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Mary ~ I agree that many people do not think about carbon monoxide, until they hear something about people that died on the news. That's terrible about the couple in your town. I'll have to check out your hub. Thank you so much for your feedback.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Glimmer ~ Yes, that's another place to look for mold: in/around skylights. Thank you so much for that reminder and for sharing this article as well.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 04, 2013:

Hi Suzie ~ I agree. Reminders like this are really important. Thanks for your feedback and vote.


kelleyward on February 04, 2013:

Great information Sharon. I have a carbon monoxide monitor in my home. But I need to check to make sure it's still working. Thanks for bring this to my mind :)

Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 03, 2013:

Hi Carol ~ Thank you so much for all the shares and votes for this important information. Very much appreciated.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 02, 2013:

Hi Dr. BJ ~ I do hope this information is a reminder to many and helps eliminate any possible hazards that could arise. Thank you for your feedback.


Sharon Smith (author) from Northeast Ohio USA on February 02, 2013:

Hi Billy ~ yes, I wish that everyone will keep these hazards in mind. I hate hearing tragedies on the news that are avoidable. Thanks for stopping by.


Yvonne Spence from UK on February 02, 2013:

Very useful information here Sharon. We have a carbon-monoxide detector right next to our boiler, and no other source, so no worries there. Black mould is another matter: we fight a constant battle with it in our bathrooms, no matter how carefully I dry the shower areas it keeps creeping back. After reading this dehumidifiers are definitely on my shopping list - I didn't realise it was so harmful, but could be why we've had a few colds in the house lately.

Thanks for the information. I will look up that mold solution on Amazon uk.

Mary Craig from New York on February 01, 2013:

These may be two common hazards but they are two that are often over-looked. This is a great hub and a must read for all new homers especially. Good suggestions, oh, and I love the photo of that house, can you imagine?

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on February 01, 2013:

This is awesome Sharyn! Something I am really paranoid about...but come on...I work from home. I'm very cognizant of what powers everything. Like I also have my chimney swept once a year.

I have every detector I can utilize, fire, co2 and a security system. I know...but heck I feel safe and know my kids are as safe as I can make it. Excellent! Voting up and sharing!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 01, 2013:

Carbon Monoxide is something people just don't think about, so I'm glad to see your article on that danger. We had a couple in our town who left the car running in their attached garage. Why?? No one knows, but they were found dead the next day. I wrote a Hub about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide also.

Voted UP, and shared.

Claudia Porter on January 31, 2013:

This is an extremely useful hub. I would add that we found mold in our skylights and promptly cleaned it out. In a lot of skylights there is a rim around the inside which catches moisture. We now clean them regularly so the mold does not go into the wooden frame. Up, useful and pinned.

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on January 31, 2013:

Great Hub. It's so important to remind ourselves of the potential dangers that exist. Voted up!

carol stanley from Arizona on January 31, 2013:

great hub and so valuable. I will keep this one around to read again. Going to share all around and tweet and vote up and even pin...It is that good!!!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on January 30, 2013:

This is very important information about the hazards of toxic mold and carbon monoxide, Sharon. Thanks for reminding us and the excellent suggestions you have listed.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 30, 2013:

Excellent suggestions and points, Sharon! Most homeowners would do well reading this hub. Well done!