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 produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could leak into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Mobile can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near 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 safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally disperses over time because CO gas weighs less 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 viewed as a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without somebody noticing. This is why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for identifying evidence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any form of fuel is burnt. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common because of its wide availability and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace creates is ordinarily vented safely away from your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience the following 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 severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous signs) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it can be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can determine where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal off the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics 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 properly vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, wasting energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it make a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Mobile. A broken or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms notice CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you should install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak when it’s been discovered. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Mobile to trained experts like Farnell Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.