COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A water heater has been linked to the carbon monoxide leak that led to the tragic deaths of a Genoa Township family and experts say there are multiple ways to make sure your own water heater is safe. 

If a water heater has a carbon monoxide leak, experts it will usually be in the heater’s ventilation system.

“Carbon monoxide or fumes can really only be leaking from this area here around the vent,” Joshua Reinhard, a licensed plumber, said.

Reinhard said installing a water heater without the help of a professional can be dangerous because homeowners may not know if there is a problem.

“The big thing is that there is [sic] just a lot of local codes and ordinances that you need to follow as far as installing water heaters,” he said. “If you install it incorrectly, you can get a big draft coming back and at that point, it’s going to allow carbon monoxide inside the house.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning that isn’t linked to any fire. The CDC says more than 20,000 people go to the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Every water heater installed in the state of Ohio, if you can, require a permit to be pulled and be inspected to make sure it’s done properly,” Reinhard said.

Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is a colorless, odorless gas. It can make you sick or even kill you. Gas appliances and homes that are not properly vented can cause carbon monoxide poisoning in people and pets living in the home.

Reinhard said the most important part of installing a water heater is to make sure there’s no backdraft.

“Typically, you do that by using a lighter or a match and blowing it out and you watch to see if the smoke gets sucked up through the vent,” he explained.

Professionals say it’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. The detector should be replaced every five years.