Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can trigger all kinds of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can leak out into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Greensburg can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby 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 like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally scatters over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anyone noticing. That's why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for recognizing evidence of CO and warning you via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is ignited. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular as a result of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most 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 earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is ordinarily released safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful concentrations 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 side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. 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 dangerous signs) are often mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it might be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to locate the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to limit 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 someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, squandering energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use 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 allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Greensburg. A broken down or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, very large homes should consider additional CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Greensburg to trained specialists like Wallpe Heating & Cooling. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.