Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO can get into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Laurel can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more info 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 something such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It usually dissipates over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of identifying faint traces of CO and alerting you via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is burnt. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its availability and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we outlined above, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is normally removed safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation due to the fact that they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to move oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a number of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (namely the less severe signs) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it could be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found 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 might take some time to locate the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, like 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, wasting energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it make a mess, but it's also a source of 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, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Laurel. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to put in 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 exit the home. It's also a smart idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should look at additional CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm should be installed around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be set up near the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms can be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Laurel to certified experts like H&C Heating and Cooling. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.