Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could leak out into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Crystal and Twin Cities 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 close by these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It usually dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO 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 created when any form of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use 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 your furnace emits is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could experience the following 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 high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it might be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and contact 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can determine where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to locate the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on 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 could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, like 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 around the clock, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it make a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use 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 exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Crystal and Twin Cities. A damaged or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much faster than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should consider extra CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you should install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak when it’s been found. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Crystal and Twin Cities to licensed specialists like GV Heating & Air. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.