Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Circleville can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually scatters over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without somebody noticing. This is why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of identifying faint traces of CO and notifying everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is burned. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common as a result of its wide availability and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined above, the carbon monoxide your furnace generates is ordinarily released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it can be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and call 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take some time to find the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only does it make a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you use 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 Circleville. A broken down or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should look at even more CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

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

  • One alarm should be placed close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be put in around the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been found. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Circleville to licensed professionals like Stephen Hurst Pack Heating and Cooling, Inc. They recognize how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.