Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Zelienople can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It generally breaks up over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent 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 can increase without anyone noticing. That's why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for recognizing the presence of CO and alerting you with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is burned. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace as a result of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots 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 mentioned above, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is usually released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe signs) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms at the same time, it can be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to locate the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to 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 enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Zelienople. A broken or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

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

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak when it’s been discovered. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Zelienople to qualified specialists like Knoechel Heating Company. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.