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 byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Magnolia can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more info about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without someone noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for identifying evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular as a result of its wide availability and affordable price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize 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 produces is ordinarily removed safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capability 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. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous levels of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous signs) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it might be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint 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 find the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do 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 somewhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only could it create 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 own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Magnolia. A damaged or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak once it’s been located. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Magnolia to qualified experts like JTech Mechanical. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.