BBQ Grill Fireplace and Gas Appliance CO2 Danger Levels

by grillrepair on

Carbon Dioxide kills over 100 people a year — and that is just the carbon dioxide in the air we’re breathing!  That is not the number of people with faulty heaters or ventilation problems in winter or people who fall asleep talking on the telephone while the car is  running in  their garage.  Every winter we hear someone in the news because of carbon dioxide poisoning. Recently the star of a television show on MTV dies sitting in a car because the muffler fumes were leaking into the seating area.  The problem with CO2 poisoning is that we do not get the blind ragefear panic of suffocating.  When we are surrounded with CO2 we will simply get tired and fall asleep.  Sometimes we will get a headache and feel dizzy but if we’re simply sitting somewhere and do not notice dizziness a slight headache is the only indication we’re dying and we get headaches all the time so we do not even know we are dying.

The only way to know if we are being poisoned is by installing alarm detectors like smoke alarms.  Other than an alarm our first line of defense is vigilance — our first line of defense for everything.  CO2 is created by burning gas.  CO2 is created by all burning gasses.  Many people have told me propane burns clean so there is no danger but propane will kill us just as fast as gasoline.  Gas machines generate CO2 poison in greater or lessoramounts depending on the gas burning and how that gas is burning.  Ovens, stoves, fireplaces, barbecues, hot water heaters, forced air furbances, pool heaters, any gas appliance or machine like cars, trucks, air planes, cranes and lawn mowers creates carbon monoxide poison.

Ventless gas fireplaces are designed to burn much less gas than vented fireplaces and the log stacking design in vent-free fireplaces is designed to minimize or remove areas where the flame touches the ceramic logs.  Unvented gas fireplaces have CO2 detectors that only affect the fireplace.  The low BTU, stacked logs and safety features make the ventless gas fireplaces safe indoors but they do create CO2.  They just do not create enough of be dangerous.  Many vent-free fireplaces test only 1 PPM (one part poison per million parts oxygen).     Some people claim to smell gas fumes and feel headaches around gas fireplaces but I have been around a lot of vented and ventless gas fireplaces and have never had that problem.

Anytime a gas flame touches a solid object carbon monoxide is created.  Light  pocket lighter and hold it against a wall and the flickering flame will make a black spot on the wall.  This is from carbon dioxide.    CO2 escaped from the pocket lighter flame just as CO2 escapes  from cars, fireplaces, heaters, etc and dissipates into our atmosphere so we are breathing carbons even when we have not put ourself in a sealed garage or  room full of gas appliances without ventilation.

Appliances are designed to either generate little or no carbon monoxide or made to vent the fumes out of the home.  The problem in a lot of homes is that when we seal all the windows and doors which is such a great idea during the winter there is little areas for oxygen to get back in the house.  Negative pressure can build up and pull heat and fumes back through vent flue pipes and chimneys pushing poison into the home.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests it is safe to have 35 PPM ambient air quality exposure over 8 hours but the OSHS safety rating allows up to 50 PPM in the workplace averaged over 8 hours.

  • At 200 ppm more than 2 hours exposure will cause a slight headache, dizziness and we start to feel tired.
  • At 400 PPM exposure of more than one hour will cause more intense headaches and at 400 PPM exposure of more than 3 hours could put us into a sleep we can never wake from.
  • At 800 PPM we will experience serious headache, dizziness, nausea after only 45 minutes.  If exposed for 2 hours at 800 PPM we will fall asleep and, sleeping we will be dead within 2 to 3 hours.
  • At 1600 PPM carbon monoxide exposure we will feel headaches, dizziness and nausea within 20 minutes and be dead within the hour.
  • 3200 PPM exposure can kill a full-grown human within 30 minutes.  Headaches, dizziness and nausea will be strong within only 5 to 10 minutes so there is little time to get out or fall unconscious and eventually go into convulsions and die.
  • At 6400 PPM CO2 exposure we will feel dizzy in minutes and can fall dead inside 10 minutes if we are not able to recognize the poison and get free.
  • 12,000 PPM exposure carbon dioxide will kill a human inside 3 minutes.


Gas appliances have a variety of safety features and pilot kits to minimize the dangers of CO2 poisoning.  Obviously if I have a headache and I am in a building with no gas appliances I do not even think of carbon dioxide poisoning.  However, when I am in a room with gas appliances and I start to feel dizzy or feel a headache coming on I immediately open a window or walk outdoors.  The headache is not going to tell us what PPM has been infected so it is important to immediately get out of range, to find clean air.

A few months ago I was working late and the words were blurring on the screen so I decided to do something else for a change of scenery.  I really enjoy installing gas lines and fireplaces so I set up some camera equiptment and began filming a new fireplace we had just started carrying.  I was using propane but had not installed the LP air mixer so the flames were burning less clean than intended and the fireplace was designed to be used in vented environments.  Because I was in a large warehouse I did not think the ventilation would be a problem.  Within 10 minutes I was feeling dizzy and had a headache.  I opened the front door, turned on the air conditioner air handler and opened the garage doors.  Inside 10 minutes I felt fine but had I not realized my mistake I could have easily gone to sleep and never woken back up.

If we’re using gas appliances always be aware carbon monoxide in strong enough amounts cal put us to sleep within 2 minutes.  If we start to feel uncomfortable or dizzy always assume you need fresh air; in the time it takes to think of other causes we could run out of time.

Got Questions?  Contact Majestic Grill Parts Anytime at:

[email protected] 


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