Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Lawrence can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to recognize the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more info 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually scatters over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without anyone noticing. This is why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for recognizing faint traces of CO and warning your family with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burnt. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to its wide availability and affordable price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful levels 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 more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it could be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It may 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's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it create a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Lawrence. A broken down or defective furnace is a likely 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 Should I Install?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should look at additional CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above suggestions, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Lawrence to trained professionals like Scott Temperature. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.