Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Florissant can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps 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 combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for recognizing evidence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace as a result of its wide availability and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is usually vented safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once 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, disrupting your body's ability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient 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 amounts 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 more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it can be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to find the right spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that would 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 improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does 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 use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Florissant. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should consider additional CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above guidelines, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak when it’s been found. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Florissant to certified specialists like B & B Heating & Cooling. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.