Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO could leak out into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Jefferson City can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more info about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally scatters over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for recognizing evidence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its wide availability and low 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 will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is usually vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they offer adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches 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 ability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of 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 hazardous quantities of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms at the same time, it can be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to locate the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions 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 emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only does it make 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 confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Jefferson City. A damaged or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, especially large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

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

  • One alarm should be installed close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be set up around the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak after it’s been located. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Jefferson City to certified professionals like Stieferman Heating Company Inc. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.