Imperial, NE – It wasn’t Santa Claus who woke the Logan Pribbeno family very early on Christmas morning.

Two carbon monoxide detectors went off 15 minutes apart, prompting Pribbeno to call the Chase County dispatcher for assistance.

At 3:49 a.m., the dispatcher called Imperial Volunteer Fire Department Chief Nick Schultz, who quickly arrived at the house and determined the carbon monoxide level was higher than it should be.

“Thirty (parts per million) is when the alarm that the fire department uses goes off,” Schultz explained. “It was briefly at 30, but was mainly between 24 and 28. Any level is bad. Ideally it should be zero.”

He called Craig Loeffler of SourceGas while the Pribbeno family waited in a parked vehicle. Loeffler told Schultz that anything over 15 should be dealt with. His readings showed 27 to 28, Schultz said.

Loeffler confirmed the source of the problem could be the gas furnace, Pribbeno said, and then disconnected the gas supply.

Schultz said Loeffler thought the problem originated in a crack in the heat exchange. SourceGas has guidelines that the furnace must be disconnected so there are no further problems, Schultz added.

Logan and Brianna Pribbeno, their seven-month old daughter Pearl, and Brianna’s parents Will and Robyn Haisley of Bend, Ore., left to spend the rest of the night with Jeff and Connie Pribbeno.

Connie Pribbeno put a positive spin on the rude awakening by saying she was happy that the whole family awoke together on Christmas morning.

The Logan Pribbeno family returned to their home later that day, as the house has radiant heat upstairs.

Logan said he has two carbon monoxide detectors in the house, one upstairs and one in the basement.

A week before the latest alarm, the upstairs detector went off.

“We didn’t think much of it,” he said. “It didn’t make sense to me that the upstairs one would go off and the downstairs one didn’t.”

After hearing both of them beeping last week, “You knew we had CO2,” he said. The detectors were new, so not old enough to be worn out.

Of the situation, Logan said, “It was fine. You can control it. It was not a big issue for us.”

Troxell’s Heating and Air Conditioning Monday made a thorough examination and determined that the cause of the carbon monoxide was a back draft in the chimney of the fireplace.

Aaron Troxell said that with the installation of new windows, the house was “so tight” that it wasn’t breathing.

Flue gases in the fireplace were forced down into the furnace, he said.

“Any time you’re trying to pull air in, and when you run another appliance,” the gases are forced down to that appliance, Troxell said.

Detectors important

Imperial Volunteer Fire Department Chief Nick Schultz gets called to three or four homes each year when carbon monoxide detectors go off.

“Generally it’s a faulty monitor or the batteries have gone dead,” he observed. “However, you need to treat every call as if it’s real.”

Schultz said there should be a detector on every level of a home, “and not too far from the furnace if that’s the only source of gas.”

Another area of concern is a fireplace. “A non-gas fireplace can potentially be complicit with a gas furnace in the manner in which air is drawn down to the furnace and can cause a problem,” he explained.

Gas stoves are not usually going to cause problems, he said.

Also, when people re-roof houses, sometimes the vents to the furnace or hot water heater are displaced, causing carbon monoxide problems, Schultz added.

Carbon monoxide detectors may be purchased at Owens True Value, Bomgaars and Adams Lumber Company. Depending on if they are just a carbon monoxide detector or if they’re combined with a smoke detector, the instruments range in price from about $25 to $35.