Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger all sorts of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in West Jefferson can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review 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 consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, 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 sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for discerning evidence of CO and notifying you via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its wide availability and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace emits is ordinarily released safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained 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 in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous quantities of CO over a long period of time, you can 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 detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous signs) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it can be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found 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 can take some time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can 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 increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you own 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 West Jefferson. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you'll want to install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak when it’s been discovered. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in West Jefferson to licensed experts like West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc.. They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.