Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO could get into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Cape Coral can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It normally disperses over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without anyone noticing. This is why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for discerning evidence of CO and notifying you via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is combusted. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its prevalence and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we stated above, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is ordinarily vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they possess 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?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate 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 hazardous concentrations 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 steeper levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it may be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to locate the right spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there are no 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 create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Cape Coral. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's crucial to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to exit the home. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been found. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Cape Coral to certified professionals like Comfort Zone Inc. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.