Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO might get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Reinholds can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share 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 such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It normally breaks up over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anyone noticing. This is why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for recognizing the presence of CO and notifying everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any form of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its wide availability and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide your furnace produces is normally released safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous concentrations 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 higher levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it may be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to find the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it create 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 have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Reinholds. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, very large homes should consider even more CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned suggestions, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak once it’s been discovered. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Reinholds to qualified specialists like County Line Mechanical LLC. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.