Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can result in all sorts of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO could get into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Branchville can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally breaks up over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without somebody noticing. This is why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of identifying the presence of CO and notifying your family with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is burnt. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace as a result of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is normally removed safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to move 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 affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful levels of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it could be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to uncover the right 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 manage to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside your home. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that 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 Branchville. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should consider even more CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you'd want to have 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 set up close to the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms can be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak once it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Branchville to certified professionals like Willco Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Heating Inc.. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.