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 result of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can leak into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Huntsville can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without anybody noticing. That's why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for identifying evidence of CO and warning you with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is combusted. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many 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

Like we stated above, the carbon monoxide the furnace creates is ordinarily released safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous levels 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 complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it might be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to find the right spot. Your technician can 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. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, wasting energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only will it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact 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. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Huntsville. A broken down or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak when it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Huntsville to certified specialists like All Weather Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.