Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Savage can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually breaks up over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's vital to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for discerning the presence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is burnt. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular because of its wide availability and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the potential health problems 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 loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it may be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and call 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal off the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to locate the exact spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to minimize 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 would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it leave a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Savage. A broken or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should look at even more CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you'd want to have three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Savage to licensed experts like Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.