Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can trigger all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Heflin can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It usually dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without somebody noticing. That's why it's vital to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for recognizing the presence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is burnt. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common as a result of its wide availability and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we outlined before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is ordinarily released safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they have 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?

Once carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious signs) are often 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 think you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has found 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 may take a bit of time to locate the right spot. Your technician will be looking 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 correctly vented and that there are no clogs 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 emit carbon monoxide, including 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, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it create 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, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Heflin. A broken or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's crucial to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, very large homes should look at additional CO detectors for equal coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you should install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been found. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Heflin to certified specialists like Bain Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. They recognize how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.