Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO might leak into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Monroe can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It normally scatters over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without anyone noticing. That's why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for recognizing the presence of CO and warning your family with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its prevalence and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

  • Water heaters
  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood stoves
  • Hot tubs
  • and more

Like we outlined above, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is normally removed safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they offer adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous quantities of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a number of symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

At even more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it can be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a bit of time to locate the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Monroe. A broken or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should look at even more CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above recommendations, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm should be set up near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be put in near the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak when it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Monroe to trained professionals like Lanz Furnace and Fireplace. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.