Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can result in all sorts of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Front Royal can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more facts 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 a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually scatters over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anybody noticing. That's why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of discerning faint traces of CO and alerting your family with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular because of its prevalence and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is usually released safely out of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they possess 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 inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous concentrations 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 potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it may be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using 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. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Front Royal. A broken or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient 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 your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you should have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak after it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Front Royal to trained specialists like Dave's Diversified Services. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.