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 complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Litchfield Park can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally breaks up over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without someone noticing. That's why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for discerning 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 form of fuel is burnt. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined above, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is normally vented safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have proper 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?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous levels of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (especially the less severe signs) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it might be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time to uncover the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately 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 when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Litchfield Park. A broken or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, very large homes should consider extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'll want to have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak after it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Litchfield Park to trained specialists like Cooler Tymes LLC. They recognize how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.