Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might leak out into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Genoa can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally breaks up over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without someone noticing. This is why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of recognizing faint traces of CO and notifying you via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide the furnace creates is usually released safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity 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. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you might experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous signs) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it may be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint 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 correct 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 reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve 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 adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it make 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, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Genoa. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should look at even more CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Genoa to qualified experts like Assured Appliance and Heating & Air. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.