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 byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Montoursville can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to learn the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It usually breaks up over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without anyone noticing. This is why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for discerning faint traces of CO and warning your family via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burnt. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its availability and affordable price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many 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 stated before, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is ordinarily vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could experience the following symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the potential health problems 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 ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may 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. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Montoursville. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak once it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Montoursville to licensed professionals like Airmen HVAC Service. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.