Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Columbia 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 inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review 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 consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It generally disperses over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without someone noticing. That's why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for identifying faint traces of CO and warning you using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to its prevalence and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we stated above, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is normally vented safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting 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 use it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful quantities of CO over a long period of time, you can experience the following symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe signs) are often mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it might be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a bit of time to find the correct spot. Your technician will be looking 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 appropriately vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using 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. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it make a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Columbia. A broken or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a smart idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, very large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak once it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Columbia to certified experts like Watts Electric & A/C Inc. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.