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 byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could leak into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Huntingburg can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more info about carbon monoxide so you can take steps 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 a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It normally disperses over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels may increase without somebody noticing. This is why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of discerning faint traces of CO and notifying everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burned. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to its wide availability and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is usually vented safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained 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 inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks 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 use it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful quantities of CO over a long period of time, you might experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less severe ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to find the correct spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as 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, squandering energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. 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 own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Huntingburg. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. 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 equal coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above guidelines, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak when it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Huntingburg to certified experts like Dearing's Service & Solutions. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.