Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in South Beloit and Belvidere can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can take steps 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 produced. It generally scatters over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anyone noticing. This is why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of discerning evidence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its prevalence and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace generates is normally released safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous amounts 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 symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe signs) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it may be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to find the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no blockages 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, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of 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, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in South Beloit and Belvidere. A broken or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's crucial to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, very large homes should look at additional CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'll want to have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak when it’s been found. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in South Beloit and Belvidere to qualified experts like Fleming Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.