Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Norton can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by 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 comprised 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 disperses over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for discerning the presence of CO and warning everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

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

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace emits is usually released safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents 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 adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a number of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it can be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to find the exact 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 reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave 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 confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Norton. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above guidelines, you'll want to install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Norton to trained professionals like HCE Systems Inc. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.