Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might get into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Lake Worth can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally disperses over time as CO gas weighs less 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 dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without somebody noticing. This is the reason why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for recognizing faint traces of CO and notifying your family using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its wide availability and affordable price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we stated above, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is usually released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe ones) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it may be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and call 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, call a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to find the correct 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 manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that can 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. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it make a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Lake Worth. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, very large homes should consider additional CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you should install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak once it’s been discovered. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Lake Worth to trained experts like Smyth Air Conditioning Inc. They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.