Carbon Monoxide and Your Oven

Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

It may not be the Turkey that makes you sleepy.


Carbon monoxide from an electric oven

Cooking the turkey for hours can introduce considerable amounts of carbon monoxide to the home during the cooking process. Turkey has a component that has been attributed to that nap after dinner. Others hypothesize it is just eating too much that leads to sleepiness. It is also possible that exposure to Carbon Monoxide is a contributor.

If carbon monoxide is a culprit, it is not only related to gas ovens.

I am not sure how much CO is given off in an electric oven during the cooking of a turkey, but certainly some amount is likely. I will have to wait until Thanksgiving to get more information on that.

Considerable is created when using the self-clean function of the oven.

My own oven gives off between 28 and 3 PPM for the first 1-1/2 hours of the 3 hour cycle. After that time, whatever was creating the CO was successfully incinerated and CO levels dropped to normal.

These amounts are perhaps not enough to kill you, but certainly enough to affect a person–especially infants that might be around.

In the first 15 minutes of operation, my own oven gave off about 28 PPM, after about half an hour it settled down to 12 PPM and after about an hour it was down to 5 PPM. At the one-hour mark, ambient CO levels in the kitchen 10 feet away from the oven hovered around 3 PPM—with the exhaust fan on and a window open.

I suspect the amount of CO will depend on what the oven is burning off in the cleaning mode, and levels likely could be considerably higher, and for longer periods of time, if the oven is not cleaned very often. I clean min probably twice a year. I may start doing it more often now.

Of course your ordinary CO alarm is “not allowed” to alarm, per its listing, at these low levels, so most of the time you will have no idea why you need a nap.

I think the lesson here is to clean your ovens regularly–don’t wait until you can see the bottom of the oven. You should also run the kitchen exhaust hood the whole cleaning cycle and keep a window open.

Perhaps I will go take a nap, while I wait for the oven to finish.

Charles Buell, real estate inspections in Seattle

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Comments (25)

Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Charles. I have no gas here so depend upon propane. I am aware of the dangers.

May 11, 2019 05:33 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Charles.  I had no idea but I will know if I feel sleepy next time I use the self clean.

May 11, 2019 06:59 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

Oh my gosh, I had no idea, Charles. Thanks so much for letting us know. I'm going to be very mindful next time we use the over or clean it. 

May 11, 2019 07:13 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Thanks to Barbara Todaro 's reblog...  Who knew? Sounds like we need to get out of the house when the self-cleaning mode is working.

May 11, 2019 09:11 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Who is so great to see a blog post from you again, It has been a very long time. I too have not seen any reports on carbon monoxide coming off of more from electric ovens. Thank you for sharing Charles Buell 

May 11, 2019 01:11 PM
Charles Buell

Beem a while Paul, I need to play in the rain more :)


May 12, 2019 09:11 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Charles- I had no idea that an electric oven could give off carbon monoxide!!! And I'm especially keeping this in mind the next time I clean the oven. 

May 11, 2019 03:28 PM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Charles,

Another good argument for a) having CO detectors and b) installing them in several places where CO could be generated, including the kitchen.

May 12, 2019 06:45 AM
Charles Buell

Keep in mine that those approved and required in homes will not respond to low levels of CO.  For that you need ones that are designed to alarm at levels below 60 PPM.  Listed alarms are not allowed to alarm at low levels.

May 12, 2019 09:13 AM
Steven Pomeroy
Wilkins and Associates - Stroudsburg, PA
Your Dream is my Passion.

I agree with Dorte above.

No need to be scared or leave the house.  Id NEVER leave the house with my oven on self clean cycle.

What this points to is to ENSURE that you have NON-EXPIRED good quality cabon monoxide detectors in your home at the hotspots.

KITCHEN "smoke/fire/carbon monoxide detection" should be included in your house security action plan!

May 12, 2019 08:42 AM
Charles Buell

Steven, it will not likely be much of an issue unless you are using your oven at high temps for long periods of time or you wait too long between cleanings.  Because the affects of CO are cumulative, low doses over long periods of time can be a problem.  If you think that your average approved CO detector from the big box stores are going to help you with this problem you would not be correct.  Those alarms are not allowed to alarm at levels below 60 PPM.

May 12, 2019 09:15 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Interesting. No wonder I feel woozy whenever I cook. 

May 12, 2019 01:22 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

I had no idea, Charles. Thanks for the education. We continue to hear dreadful stories about CO, including the one just a week ago!


May 12, 2019 03:29 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Thanks for the heads up and we should all be so illiterate about all these things. Carbon monoxide is no joke!

May 12, 2019 08:05 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Jeff Dowler, CRS I really didn’t have that much of an idea up until recently and I’m glad I know a little more now. I had assumed that all that stuff did all that and so I avoided a lot of it but I didn’t know specifics of what everything was in all the areas.

May 12, 2019 08:07 PM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

This is very interesting and it something to look into real soon

May 13, 2019 08:37 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

CO is odorless. By the time someone inhales it. Too late.

Thanks for the reminder.

May 13, 2019 10:44 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

This is a good subject to write about. I always worry about the safety of what my oven is giving off.

May 13, 2019 04:26 PM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farm & Commercial Land Broker-Auctioneer Serving Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

Charles Buell Thank you for sharing that. I have said for years that an electric oven does give off some carbon monoxide.  We have a gas oven...and my wife works for the local natural gas we are well aware of the dangers and pay close attention to to it.  Thank you for making others aware.

May 13, 2019 07:34 PM
Fred Sweezer Sr. CMI, LLC.
Hud Certified 203K Consultant - Long Beach, CA
HUD 203k Consultant

Thanks for the very informative post, it is hard to convince clients the importance of exhaults fan.

May 14, 2019 12:24 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Something I would not have thought of. Another good reason for keeping the oven clean.

May 14, 2019 05:20 AM
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Great information!  I am always surprised at the dirty ovens as we look at homes with buyers.

May 14, 2019 06:00 AM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

I learned something today from your post, Charles Buell ... and I think that's the highest compliment a blog/blogger can receive ... 


May 15, 2019 09:01 AM