Eureka Township, MI – By Ryan Jeltema, Daily News staff writer
After watching her neighbors left homeless after a fire destroyed their house Jan. 6, Carrie Schmidt now knows that same helpless feeling.
High levels of carbon monoxide inside her home last week forced Schmidt, her husband, Troy, and their two daughters, ages 21/2 and 19 months, to live in a hotel for four days last week.
The worst part is that no one could determine where the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas came from.
Schmidt said carbon monoxide alarms sounded inside their home early last week for the second time this year. Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the bloodstream and can result in death.
Brian Brasington from Montcalm County Emergency Services in Stanton responded and with a monitor discovered carbon monoxide levels of 38 parts per million (ppm) in the upstairs bedrooms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends homes not have carbon monoxide concentrations of more than 9 ppm.
It was quite unsafe, Brasington said. In the upstairs her conditions were unfavorable.
Schmidt said that was especially disconcerting since her daughters bedrooms are upstairs and both were taking naps when the carbon monoxide levels were measured.
My little girls were up there sleeping. I got dizzy as soon as I got up there, she said in a Grand Rapids hotel room last week, her voice breaking up from crying. This is poison. These are my children, babies. My pediatrician said not to bring them into the house again until the problem is taken care of.
Late last week, she was able to take them home after KBH Homes in Comstock Park, which built her house 11/2 years ago, volunteered to replace the furnace and water heater with units that have side vents.
Schmidt believes the carbon monoxide seeped into the upstairs through a vent that sucks warm air to the furnace.
However, DTE Energy in Detroit and KBH furnace repairmen investigated but could not pinpoint the problem. Kurt Hammersma, a KBH member, said neither test uncovered elevated levels of carbon monoxide or problems with either appliance. Nevertheless, the company decided to replace the appliances anyway at no cost to the Schmidts.