Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO could leak into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Stuart can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 something like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It generally disperses over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anybody noticing. This is why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for discerning faint traces of CO and notifying you using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to 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 utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it may be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has found 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 may take a bit of time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only does it create a mess, but it will also emit 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 allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Stuart. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above guidelines, you should install three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak once it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Stuart to certified specialists like Breathe Healthier Air. They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.