Sleepy From Turkey CO

I have been forced to leave more houses during energy audits because of gas ovens than for any other reason.  A gas oven burns gas.  Anything that burns can generate Carbon Monoxide or CO.  The combustion fumes move up through100_2776 an opening or chimney that generally vents just below the control panel near the burners.  If you hold your hand there, you will feel the warm, moist combustion air leaving the oven.  If the oven is old, dirty or mis-adjusted, an excessive amount of CO will get produced when the oven is being used.  The CO level is particularly high when the oven is first turned on (commonly over 1,000 ppm)  and should decrease as the system achieves a steady state operation (dropping to around 100 ppm or less).  It is advisable to keep the range hood running and venting to the outside or a window open slightly while using the oven.  CO has about the same molecular weight as oxygen so it is neutrally buoyant, but I would keep the infants out of the kitchen while the oven is warming up.

A well-adjusted gas oven flame should be blue in color, symmetrically shaped, and about ½ inch tall.  A ragged, hissing flame indicates the combustion process is getting too much air.  A yellow orange flame indicates it is getting too little air.  The flame should be continuous along the length of the burner.   If it’s not, some of the ports may be clogged, but make sure the oven is turned off and cool before making any adjustments.

I have always heard that people get sleepy from the tryptophan in the turkey, but I have begun to wonder if it’s the CO from the oven!  Enjoy Thanksgiving, but make sure your kitchen is properly ventilated!

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3 Responses to “Sleepy From Turkey CO”

  1. Robert Lee Says:

    These are typically called “unvented appliances” however, this is not really accurate. In reality they are “room vented” appliances; keep this in mind when you make a fire in any structure with an “approved” appliance (gas heater, kerosene heater etc)! Assume it is not safe and check it at least once a year and have a low level CO alarm for protection at all times.

  2. George Tsongas Says:

    Some occupants will take the chill out of the kitchen air and heat the air by turning on the gas oven and opening the oven door. Unpublished lab studies I directed found doing that often produces exceedingly high levels of CO that are much greater than levels created with the door closed.

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