Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can trigger all sorts of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO could get into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Logan can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It usually breaks up over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may increase without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for discerning the presence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is combusted. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is usually vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they possess 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 breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful levels 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 steeper levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) 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 at the same time, it can be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. 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 compact spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Logan. A broken or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, especially large homes should consider extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Logan to licensed specialists like Western Mechanical, Inc.. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.