Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak out into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Central Point can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take 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 a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally disperses over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anybody noticing. This is why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for identifying evidence of CO and notifying you with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is burnt. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular because of its wide availability and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace creates is usually released safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous 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 higher levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large 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 symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it may be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a professional technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's 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 find the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase 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 placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you have 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 Central Point. A broken down or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above suggestions, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm should be mounted around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be set up near the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or in 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. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Central Point to certified specialists like Titan Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.