Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite 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 flammable and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might get into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Wharton can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally scatters over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without anyone noticing. That's why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of discerning faint traces of CO and alerting you with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common as a result of its availability and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is normally vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous concentrations 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 potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it can be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal off the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to locate the correct spot. Your technician can look 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. See to it that your furnace is properly 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 using 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 be running constantly, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only will it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you own 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 Wharton. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should consider additional CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you should have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak after it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Wharton to certified specialists like Faust Air Conditioning and Heating. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.