When a couple in Clay, Alabama, called us about their busted water line, they were not looking to solve a health problem. Yet, good plumbing, in this case, may have discovered the cause of the man's headaches.
As is always the case, we offer a full house plumbing inspection with every service call. This time, we found their gas water heater was not vented properly. This was allowing carbon monoxide to leak, at very low levels, into the house, coming up from the basement through the vents.
I asked the woman of the house, "Have you or your husband been experiencing headaches?"
And she said, "Yes, my husband has."
The CDC lists the most common carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. One of the main symptoms is headaches. Remember, carbon monoxide is an odorless gas. The CDC recommends having an inspection every year if you burn anything (gas, wood, etc.) inside your home.
This couple did not have a carbon monoxide alarm. And whoever did their water heater plumbing, well, they violated the law. There are strict regulations on plumbing for gas appliances, as well there should be. It should be vented upward and out of the house.
According to the New York Department of Health, nationwide, carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of death by poison. About 400 people die each year from it.
Note that some detectors are "low level," meaning they are set to alarm even for low levels of carbon monoxide. Since low levels of carbon monoxide can cause health problems long-term, you might consider getting one of these. Some say the digital detectors are more sensitive. Call me if you have any concerns about carbon monoxide in your home.