Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might leak out into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Crestview can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to know the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It normally dissipates over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without someone noticing. This is why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for discerning evidence of CO and notifying everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we stated before, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is normally released safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped 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 in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a number of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (namely the less serious symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to find the right 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 do to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Crestview. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial 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 great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should consider additional CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above guidelines, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Crestview to trained specialists like Gordon Air Conditioning. They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.