Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can leak into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Hodgenville can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more info about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps 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 a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It normally dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may increase without somebody noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for identifying the presence of CO and alerting everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is burned. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots 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 the furnace creates is normally vented safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they offer adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity 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 quantities of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous symptoms) are easily 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 may be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to uncover the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including 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 your home. Not only will 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 compact spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Hodgenville. A damaged or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans can.

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. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at even more CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak once it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Hodgenville to certified professionals like Phelps Heating & Cooling. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.