Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO might leak out into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Bishop can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take steps 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 flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally dissipates over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. This is why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of identifying faint traces of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is ignited. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace because of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined above, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is normally vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (namely the less severe symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it can be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, exit the house right away and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to find the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace 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 maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run around the clock, wasting energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only will it create a mess, but it can produce more 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, verify that 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 Bishop. A broken down or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, especially large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you should install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak after it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Bishop to certified experts like Bishop Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.