About five years ago, Geoffrey Winters nearly died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Little did he know that a small leak in a furnace flue on the second floor of his home was causing his family to feel sick - a sickness that just would not go away.

"I was very lethargic," remembered Winters. "Fortunately, the problem was discovered and we got out in time. Although we were sickened by the gas, the potential tragedy haunted me, and I thought there must be a solution to this deadly problem."

It's the main reason he developed the UltraGuard Carbon Monoxide Life Safety System. It may have been three years in the making, but Winters believes his new product can save people's lives. At the same time, he believes it's a product that can make contractors money.

"Guys don't go the extra mile to save lives," said Winters, admittedly speaking of HVACR contractors in general terms. "If he was smart, he'd look into this system. If they introduced this product to the homeowner, I don't see how they could say no."

After his life-threatening experience, Winters did some research regarding CO poisoning. The CEO and president of Electronic Control Systems LLC, Greenwich, Conn., found out that 5,000 people succumb to CO poisoning each year, while between 40,000 and 60,000 are sent to emergency rooms because of it. His conclusion was that CO is the No. 1 cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.

"This was just not acceptable, not in this day and age," he said, re-counting his findings during a break at the recent 2004 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition in Anaheim, Calif. "These tragedies don't have to happen."

He is still amazed that members of the general public do not know about this deadly IAQ "threat." He understands this to a point - especially since it is something you cannot see, taste, or smell.

"The public just does not know," he said. "People do not realize you need a detector in every room and floor."

It's a fact that burning any carbon fuel - such as gas, oil, wood, or charcoal - in a home can lead to CO buildup. And it's common knowledge that there's no danger if the CO gas is vented properly. The sad point is, if the furnace venting leaks, the chimney clogs up, or an automobile is left running in the garage....

"At high levels, it can kill within one to three minutes; at lower levels, within 30 minutes," said Winters, noting that extended exposure at lower levels can result in serious damage to brain, heart, and/or kidneys.

Search For A Solution

Instead of accepting the situation, Winters looked into ways of combating the problem.

His answer is the product he developed.

In a nutshell, when CO is detected, the UltraGuard is designed to take action. The system not only sounds alarms, but it is designed to simultaneously shut down what he considers the most common sources of CO gas in a home: the furnace and hot water heater. When the CO has dissipated, it is designed to restart both units automatically. This is so designed, he said, to prevent water pipes from freezing in the wintertime.

"UltraGuard is the only CO detection system that can do this," he claimed. "Most CO detectors you buy can only do one thing: They sound an alarm - but that's only if their batteries are working. None of the CO detectors take action against the problem."

He said his system can monitor up to four different zones in a home, with multiple detectors in each zone. Another plus about his system, he said, is that it requires sensor replacement every five years. He said an internal five-year clock will alert a homeowner when the sensor replacement date nears.

Paul Roach, senior vice president of sales, noted that several states have already passed laws requiring CO detectors in homes. Some states, he said, want these systems hard-wired. In the end, both Roach and Winters agreed that more states will be requiring such detection, and both believe contractors should be the ones selling the systems.

"If a contractor can come in and provide safety for the home, he will have gained a customer for life," stated Winters.

For more information regarding the UltraGuard system, visit www.ecsultraguard.com or call 888-302-3166.

Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or markskaer@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 02/23/2004