Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can leak into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Safford can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up more facts about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally scatters over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's vital to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for discerning evidence of CO and warning everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is burned. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its prevalence and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is usually released safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have sufficient 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 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 ability to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a number of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less severe signs) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it could be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to find the right spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any obstructions 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 produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run night and day, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it make a mess, but it's also a source of 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, verify that the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Safford. A damaged or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize 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 each floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above suggestions, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak when 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 Safford to certified specialists like B&D Air Conditioning. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.